AIS and SCB abandon their digital banking JV

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Amid its opposition to the ongoing True-DTAC merger, Thailand’s largest mobile operator AIS has announced it would back out from a joint venture with Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) that aimed to provide digital banking services.

In a filing to the Stock Exchange of Thailand, the company stated that it will dispose of all investments made in AISCB, the venture announced in September 2021.

At the time, the two companies were looking to expand their existing partnership in the digital financial services sector.

Future collaboration still possible

AISCB expected to create innovative digital banking solutions by combining AIS’s experience with networks and digital technology with SCB’s financial services know-how. That goal will now have to be achieved by both companies separately.

However, AIS did not rule out future business dealings with the bank, in which it initially intended to acquire a 50% stake.

“AIS’ business direction continues toward the aspiration of providing digital life services and aims to leverage the core business to offer a new digital experience in accessing relevant services to our customers,” the filing said.

AIS has ‘cognitive telco’ aspirations

The mobile operator remains at a crossroads, as an official announcement has yet to be made about the future of its leadership. According to an anonymous source speaking to The Bangkok Post, Somchai Lertsutiwong will likely remain CEO of AIS for one or two more years, even though his retirement is scheduled at the end of this year.

Whatever the board’s decision may be, leadership will be crucial for AIS, which is aiming to become a smart or cognitive telco by 2024. According to Somchai, this will require the company to pursue its goal faster than originally planned in order to remain one step ahead of the True-DTAC merger, which will automatically bump AIS down to the no.2 spot in terms of subscribers.

AIS is also in the process of acquiring fixed broadband providers Triple T Broadband and Jasmine Broadband Internet Infrastructure Fund for a total of 32.4 billion baht. Once the deal goes through, AIS will be the second largest player in the fixed broadband market with approximately 15% market share.

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