Survey shows rural people still lack access to both regulated and unregulated financial services

The Puey Ungphakorn Institute for Economic Research (PUIE) says rural people still lack access to financial services, particularly those living in the northeastern provinces.

It said both regulated and unregulated financial services are not available in up to 30.6% of villages surveyed.

It suggested that banking agents could be a solution to the lack of financial services.

The survey by the research centre of the Bank of Thailand was conducted on over 300,000 target areas or villages in the country.

The centre’s chief for financial service systems Mrs Soamrat Chantharat said the survey focussed on the access to the financial service by people in rural areas.

The survey found that although the country has a large number of financial services centres scattering around the country, but they could not be reached by the rural people as they are located more than 5 kilometres from their villages.

She said up to 55% of villages have no regulated financial service available.

Deeper survey into these villages also showed up to 30.6% of them still lack both regulated and unregulated financial services, particularly villages in the northeastern provinces, she said.

She suggested both regulated and unregulated financial operators, including banking agents could fill the gap, to serve people up to over 34% of villages.

Potential banking agents she said included petrol stations, convenience stores, postal offices, unregulated financial service operators, regulated financial service, telecom service operators, and stores with EDC or electric data capture machines.

But she said the likeliest banking agent with high potential should be petrol stations to provide financial services in remote areas while convenience stores and postal offices could provide convenience for access.

But she added there are also other factors to consider in addition to locations such as cash management, risk management and location risk.