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Thai Law Needs to Catch Up with the Cloud
Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/news/national/30301631
Source Date: Thursday, December 08, 2016
Focus: Institution and HR Management
Country: Thailand
Created: Dec 13, 2016

Cloud computing services have become a new requirement for the country’s digital economy in light of the “big data” era of information overload.

To facilitate e-commerce and e-payment services, Charoen Pokphand Group’s True and Ascend companies have, for example, turned to cloud services to store and manage the huge amount of data resulting from new digital businesses.

The Thai commerce ministry is also working closely with China’s Alibaba group to help small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs) sell their products and services via Alibaba’s e-commerce and e-payment platforms, which are currently among the world’s largest.

This will be the new export channel to tap Chinese and other foreign consumers shopping online.

However, critics have cautioned that the use of cloud services to store and manage data outside the country should be regulated under a national data-protection law, which is still pending in the National Legislative Assembly.

For Asean countries, including Thailand, cloud service providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) use Singapore as a major data centre to serve the Southeast Asian region.

Due to the economies of scale, data needs to be stored and managed overseas to benefit from cloud computing technology, which allows businesses to avoid huge investment in IT infrastructure for new e-commerce, e-payment and other digital services.

Users can pay as they use the cloud services, just like they pay for electricity. This gives maximum flexibility and speed in launching new digital services on the cloud.

CP Group’s True and Ascend have adopted cloud services to roll out new businesses in Thailand and Asean neighbours. For example, e-commerce site Weloveshopping now uses a 100-per-cent cloud platform, so it has no IT infrastructure at its own premises.

Ant Financial of Alibaba Group also owns a 20-per-cent stake in Ascend Money, which provides e-payment and financial services in Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

Ascend Money is starting to tap the overseas business with a money transfer service aimed at millions of Myanmar migrant workers in Thailand who want to send money back home.

There will be agents to collect money from these migrant workers in Thailand for remittance via the cross-border e-payment service, which works in conjunction with banks in Myanmar.

For e-commerce, a major weakness in Asean markets is the absence of popular e-payment services, since many online buyers use the cash-on-delivery method.

To tap the huge potential of e-commerce, as Alibaba has done successfully in China, Thai companies are planning to introduce e-payment and mobile payment services to reduce dependence on cash and progress along the digital economic growth path.

Many low-income customers in Thailand and the rest of Asean do not have bank accounts, but they do have mobile phones which can act as payment devices.

On the other hand, Alibaba, which has been successful with its Ali Pay services for e-commerce, aims to tap a new generation of Chinese tourists coming to Thailand.

This will open up new business opportunities for Thai SMEs and other enterprises on the Alibaba platforms, as China has been Thailand’s biggest source of foreign tourists for the past few years, accounting for about one-third of the total 30 million yearly foreign arrivals.

In the end, the NLA needs to quickly enact a national data-protection bill to facilitate adoption of cloud computing and other digital services.

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