Siam Commercial Bank is to spin off some of its technology operations as separate companies in a bid to monetise its investment in IT at a time of sluggish earnings in the Thai banking sector.
The bank's main technology units include Digital Ventures, which has a $100 million budget for investing in startups, and National ITMX Co, a payments services provider. The firm has also recently completed a four-year capital spending programme worth $1.3 billion focused on artificial intelligence, digital platforms and other technology.
Siam Commercial co-president Orapong Thien-Ngern told Bloomberg that at least one of the fintech units has the potential to become a unicorn, with a valuation of $1 billion.
“We will spin off some of them to allow them more freedom and independence, including raising their own funds from other investors,” Orapong told the newswire.
“Thai banking like most other countries is a sunsetting industry, as existing lenders and new players are competing for limited pools of customers,” he continued. “Venture capital and technology investments will be the key survival strategies for SCB in attracting new customers and boosting earnings.”