ESG has recently emerged as one of the concepts of sustainable development that has gained traction among investors when making investment decisions. The criteria, which refers to three dimensions as its name suggests—the environment, society, and governance—have to not only reflect the responsibility of the organization toward its stakeholders but also capture the performance of the organization in a sustainable way.
A survey conducted by Kasikorn Research Center (KResearch) on shifting customer behaviors found that 97% of respondents were willing to pay more for environmentally friendly products. Investors consider ESG risk in selecting investments. Furthermore, regulators have given greater importance to ESG consideration, implementing policies such as the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM). Both the European Union and the United States are also more stringent in their national regulation, requiring publicly traded companies to disclose information on ESG reports, carbon tax collection measures, corporate greenhouse gas emissions, and so on.
Kasikornbank (KBank), led by Krit Jitjang, President, has revealed that the Bank has long been vigorously operating its business on the principles of sustainability. Recognizing the urgent importance and opportunities for the Thai economy, the KBank ESG Strategy 2023 has been announced. Toward becoming an ESG leader among banks in Southeast Asia, the strategy based on ESG criteria emphasizes systematic operation, measurability, and improving operations in accordance with international standards.
With plans and goals in various dimensions as follows:
Seeking to be a responsible steward for the environment, Kasikornbank has announced its Net Zero Commitment and has moved ahead with its transition following 4 goals for environmental sustainability in 2023 consisting of
"KBank will prioritize industry groups, assessing and formulating a strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Industries such as power plants, oil & gas, and coal mining groups account for approximately 27% of total greenhouse gas emissions in the bank’s portfolio, With this, the bank is looking to expand its work with other clients in other key industries."
In the social dimension, one of the key roles of the bank is financial inclusion and financial literacy. KBank has been enabling individuals to have access to financial services while safeguarding their security and privacy. The bank has been empowering a variety of clients, including individuals with incomes not exceeding 30,000 baht per month, freelancers without proof of income, and business customers with an income of no more than 2.5 million baht per year. Through this past September 2022, Kasikornbank disclosed that it had granted loans to more than 500,000 individual clients worth over 23,000 million baht.
"...And KBank has set a goal for another 1,900,000 small customers to be able to access credit by 2025 and must provide 10 million target customers with financial and cybersecurity knowledge by 2023."
With banking being the baseline of every business, therefore, KBank attaches great importance to ESG credit assessment to ensure that every loan issued does not cause negative impacts on the economy, society, or environment. As a result, project finance and commercial credits for medium enterprises and above were processed through a 100% ESG risk assessment and have more than 340 billion baht in credit through this process as of September 2022.
In addition, Mr. Jitjang also mentioned
“When we say we want to lead, it’s meant leaving nobody behind - KBank cannot succeed alone. For example, one high-interests campaign wouldn’t succeed if KBank is the only bank who implement this, attractive returns have to first be generated for others in the financial ecosystem to follow strides and succeed. KBank have to be strong in this notion in setting example”
KBank aims to foster cooperation across the entire ecosystem by advising the business sector to adapt and prepare for long-term sustainable business operations by assessing sustainability risks (ESG risks) in all dimensions. From following eco-friendly trend in all sectors, reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the production process and measure and produce data on greenhouse gas emissions (Carbon Footprint) so that customers, society, and the country can grow sustainably together.
However, with the bank incorporating ESG principles in all of its processes, there’s still some significant challenges in management issues that must be considered from various dimensions. In the end, the heart of driving business based on principles of sustainability lies in the continuous balance of management, contingency planning, and the adaptability to copes with changes since sustainability is a never-ending process.
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