In Thailand, Cash is the king, but Thai people started to love cashless payments. In opposite to Western countries cards never get that popular here (but their popularity still rises and credit card companies are trying to put a lot of money into the Thai market to be more visible and available for customers). Many Asian countries created QR code system payments that are available for everyone and are easy to use. In this article, I will try to explain Thai QR code payments – PromptPay.
What are Thai QR code payments?
PromptPay is a service created by the Bank of Thailand, it allows to transfer of money between bank accounts (and electronic wallets) knowing phone numbers or citizen IDs. This information can be placed in the QR code, which allows for easy transfer. In many places in Thailand, you can see printed QR codes that allow for easy payment for merchants.
How do Thai QR code payments work?
It depends on the person or vendor. Friends can just send a QR code to another friend when waiting for a transfer. Street food vendors will just print stickers with their QR codes. The big shop will use the same terminal as for credit cards to display one time QR code. Users just need to open the bank app, scan the code, put the amount to transfer (sometimes can be added already in the QR code) and confirm the whole operation.
What are the benefits of Thai QR code payments?
The benefit is only one, it is the most popular cashless way of payment in many places in Thailand. So if you don’t want to bring a ton of cash all the time when going out you need to use PromptPay. Credit cards are not as popular as in Western countries and can use them mostly in big business (often with a 3% surcharge). QR transfers are also a free and easy way to send money to friends.
Who offers Thai QR code payment?
As mentioned before, this is the most popular cashless way of paying in Thailand. In Bangkok almost everyone accepts it, I can leave my wallet at home and I am almost sure I can pay in most places with my phone without any problem.
PromptPay international (Cross-border Payment)
Because QR code payments are also popular in other Asian countries, the Bank Of Thailand partially connected the system to other countries (Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore). That means that clients of some Banks are able to pay in these countries and/or people from these countries are able to pay in Thailand. I would say that system is not mature enough yet and is not good enough for everyday use. Mostly because of high fees, exchange rates and few participating banks. But I am waiting for this system to improve and could be interesting for travellers in future.
Thai QR payment for foreigners
And now probably the most popular question, hot to pay with QR codes in Thailand as a foreigner? And here I have a bad message for you. There is only one solution, you need to open a Thai bank account (that could be not that easy as a tourist). You can check my article about bank account opening in Thailand.
- Rabbit LINE Pay: a guide for the only Thai financial service available for everyone
- How to open a bank account in Thailand: a guide for expats and tourists
The article is also published in Polish on my blog.