MasterCard’s Global Destination Cities Index ranked the Thai capital city Bangkok as Asia Pacific’s top destination city for air travel, and the world’s second destination city after first-ranked London.
Not only known for its delectable food, vibrant culture and shopping, Thailand is also a nation of technology-savvy consumers who are embracing the use of mobile phones to purchase products and services online.
77% of Thai consumers access the internet on their smartphones for an average of 6.6 hours per day and 51.2% are spending that time shopping online via their smartphones, according to the latest MasterCard Online Shopping Survey.
We sat down with Antonio Corro, Country Manager, Thailand & Myanmar, to get his thoughts on the payments landscape in Thailand, the opportunities present in the market, as well as his leadership style.
- What areas of MasterCard’s business excite you the most?
I am most excited about the opportunity to grow our business in Thailand. In terms of products, our partnership with all three major telecommunications companies in Thailand is hugely promising as it allows us to reaches a new market segment and drives financial inclusion.
The collaboration with the three telcos to launch prepaid cards linked to mobile wallets expands our service offering by reaching consumers without credit cards. There are over 96 million mobile subscribers and only 64 million people in the country. Thai consumers are increasingly embracing mobile shopping and through these partnerships, we will provide MasterCard cardholders additional value-added payment options and access to the online marketplace, while further expanding our presence in Thailand.
- How close do you think Thailand is to becoming a cashless society?
We are still a long way from becoming a cashless society. Despite being a very mature market for payment cards, people still use cash, that’s why there’s a lot of opportunity to convert cash transactions to electronic payments. In order to do so, it is crucial that we continue to work closely with the regulators in Thailand to drive electronic payments.
For example, prepaid cards are already available, but have not been pushed extensively due to local restrictions. What is quite exciting is that the Bank of Thailand will allow use of prepaid cards for cross border transactions in the near future. This will generate a lot of interest because Thai people love online shopping. When this happens, consumers here will be able to shop on international e-commerce sites with their prepaid cards.
Prepaid cards enable consumers to engage in the financial system with minimal barriers to entry, and it also offers consumers convenience as well as enhanced security and control. We believe that this will be well-received by the younger consumers in Thailand.
- What is your leadership style?
I believe that communication, teamwork and empowerment are hallmarks of any successful business. Here, we trust our employees and invest in training and coaching them. Empowering people to improve and develop is part of MasterCard’s culture – and helps them to make thoughtful decisions.
- Where do the great ideas come from in your organization?
As an organization, MasterCard engages employees to encourage new thoughts and ideas. In fact, we have a global program which recognizes and rewards employees who share innovative ideas and we actively encourage our teams to participate.
We also have MasterCard Labs which was created for the purpose of generating new ideas and driving innovation, because at the end of the day, we are a technology company and innovation is a priority.