Bangkok (VNA) Electronic money (e-money) has grown in terms of spending and top-up value, driven by consumers' financial behaviour in the digital age and social distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, local media reported.

According to the Bank of Thailand, e-money spending value has continued to increase in the Southeast Asian nation for the past five years. In 2020, the value was 310 billion baht (nearly 10 billion USD), rising from 90.9 billion baht in 2016.

The value stemmed largely from non-bank companies, which contributed 276 billion baht, or 88.3 percent, last year.

The top-up value of e-money in 2020 tallied 314 billion baht, increasing from 91.5 billion in 2016. Last year 88 percent of the total top-up value was from non-bank companies.

There are 30 e-money service providers licensed by the central bank, of which 23 are non-bank companies.

Atis Ruchirawat, chairman of Credit Card Club, a unit under the Thai Bankers' Association, said e-payment via all tools, especially digital payment, surged during the pandemic. Thai consumers became familiar with digital payment during the pandemic and many of them will not return to traditional payment, he said.

During this transition, omnichannel, which covers both offline and online, is a solution for Thais, he said.

Visa, the world's leader in digital payments, last month unveiled its survey about consumer payment attitude in Thailand.

The survey found four out of five Thais (80 percent) have tried going cashless. The pandemic also prompted non-users to choose contactless payments over cash. Mobile contactless was most used among first-timers at 26 percent, followed by contactless cards (23 percent) and QR code (21 percent).

The study also showed the pandemic accelerated the pace at which Thailand is becoming a cashless society, with payment innovation playing an increasingly important role in people's daily lives.

Visa estimated Thailand could become a cashless society by 2026, several years ahead of a previous projection of 2030./.