Thai-Lao QR payment system launched to boost border tourism

Picture of The Thai–Lao Friendship Bridge, which crosses the Mekong River, connecting Mukdahan province in Thailand with Savannakhet in Laos, courtesy of Pattaya Mail

The Bank of Thailand (BoT) and the Bank of Lao (BoL) have initiated a QR payment system to facilitate electronic transactions, a move that promises to increase tourist spending at the Thai-Laos border. The system was launched on the fringes of the 11th ASEAN Finance Ministers’ and Central Bank Governors’ Meeting in the Luang Prabang on April 3.

Khemchat Somjaiwong, the head of the Khon Kaen Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the development. He expressed optimism that this cooperation could stimulate economic activity in the second quarter, particularly during the upcoming Songkran and Lao New Year festivals.

“In the first phase, Lao people who cross to Thailand can use their Lao commercial bank apps on their mobile phones to scan the Thai PromptPay QR code to pay for goods or services in Thailand. The service has been available since April 3.”

A second phase, slated for the end of June, will enable Thai citizens to utilise their mobile banking apps for purchases in Laos. This service is projected to spur spending, especially in the Nong Khai province of Thailand and Vientiane in Laos, said Khemchat.

“Other provinces like Udon Thani and Khon Kaen will also benefit, as many Laotian people cross the Thai-Laos friendship bridges to buy products, see doctors, attend seminars or enjoy a relaxing holiday. They won’t have to worry about payment, as paying by QR code will be convenient.”

According to the BoT, this collaboration is likely to strengthen trade, investment, tourism and the use of local currencies under the Asean Payment Connectivity initiative.

Cross-border real-time payment

Sethaput Suthiwartnarueput, the central bank governor, previously stated that the BoT recognises the significance of cross-border real-time payment linkage. The bank has already collaborated with five ASEAN countries, including Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam.

“Laos is our sixth linkage under the ASEAN Payment Connectivity initiative. We believe cross-border QR payment services will be a safer, more efficient, and a cost-attractive alternative for retail payments in Asean, thereby promoting economic growth in the region and supporting the transition towards a digital society.”

Bounleua Sinxayvoravong, governor of the BoL, echoed these sentiments. He stated the collaboration mirrors a shared vision for regional integration, economic development and prosperity. Various stakeholders are involved in the initiative, including the National ITMX Co and Lao National Payment Network Co (LAPNet), operators of instant payment systems.

Kasikorn Bank and Banque Pour Le Commerce Exterieur Lao (BCEL) are overseeing cross-border settlements. Six banks from Laos have already joined, while Krungthai Bank and Bank of Ayudhya in Thailand will provide the service for QR payment in Laos in the second phase, reported Bangkok Post.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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