Thailand’s major mobile players True Corp and AIS, backed by two of the largest companies in the country, aim to secure virtual banking licences from the central bank, Bloomberg reported.

Both conglomerates have lined up financial partners to prepare to apply for the licences: Charoen Pokphand Group (CP Group) is working with Ant Group and power producer Gulf Energy Development is partnering with Krung Thai Bank, the news agency stated.

True Corp is a subsidiary of CP Group, while Gulf Energy is the largest shareholder of Intouch Holdings, which holds a 40.4 per cent stake in AIS.

In July 2023, the Bank of Thailand revealed it will grant three virtual bank licences, accepting applications from today (20 March) until 19 September. The permits will be awarded next year. 

Thai commercial bank SCB X also will make a bid, revealing plans last June to work with KakaoBank.

A year ago, True Corp and Telenor Group completed a long-awaited merger of their respective mobile units in Thailand, creating the largest player in the country with 51.9 million mobile subscribers at end-2023.

AIS ended last year with 44.6 million mobile subs.