BAAC harnesses power of Microsoft’s world-class cloud platform in mission to help Thai farmers overcome COVID-19 impact

BAAC relief fund website on a smartphone
  • website, jointly developed with Microsoft, operates on database of 10 million farmers nationwide on Azure cloud platform
  • Cloud technology the key solid infrastructure that successfully processed over 30 million data transactions over the first 24 hours of service

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Bangkok, 24 June 2020 – Thailand’s Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) joined forces with Microsoft Thailand and partner Bluebik Group in providing financial relief to Thai farmers affected by the global pandemic through the world-class capabilities of the Microsoft cloud. The initiative’s success provides more proof of the advantage that organizations can attain through a combination of innovation capacity and agility in operation and collaboration.

The spread of COVID-19 had a significant negative impact on the economy and everyday life – including the agriculture sector, which has long been a major contributor to the Thai economy. In response, the Cabinet approved emergency relief measures for affected agriculturists as proposed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives. This relief program would cover over 10 million farmers and agriculturists as named in the databases of various relevant government agencies. Upon the announcement of these relief measures, farmers headed to BAAC branch offices nationwide in large numbers – with some branches seeing ten times the usual maximum capacity of 100 customers present simultaneously in each branch. 

Man in green jacketApirom Sukprasert, President, BAAC, said, “With customers visiting our branches for inquiries and services in unusually high numbers, the risk of COVID-19 infection also grew higher for both visiting farmers and our own employees. We quickly took action to rectify the situation with the development of the website, which provides greater convenience for farmers and helps to ensure proper social distancing for everyone’s safety. The site allows agriculturists to verify their eligibility to receive the relief funds and check for the latest updates on fund transfer status without requiring any physical contact with the bank. It also has the capacity to ensure full access to all farmers nationwide. Registration on the site began on May 7.”

Cloud technology shows the only way forward for critical mission under BAAC’s digital strategy

The BAAC faced the challenge of urgently developing a website that could handle requests from very large amounts of users within a short time period without sacrificing speed or responsiveness. The bank’s IT team quickly made the decision to deploy the site on a cloud infrastructure, which offers a level of flexibility that allows the service to be scaled up or down based on actual demand. The team eventually settled on Microsoft Azure as their choice for the project thanks to the platform’s excellent performance, support for agile development, and world-class security and privacy standards as certified by more than 90 certificates and institutions.

Throughout development, BAAC and Microsoft teams worked together closely and managed to get the site ready for launch within just 48 hours. Over its first 24 hours of service, the site managed to handle over 30 million data transactions without access or usability issues.

Smiling man in grey Microsoft polo shirtDhanawat Suthumpun, Managing Director, Microsoft (Thailand) Limited, said, “Agility is a key factor driving business success in the digital era, and we are proud to have supported the development of this website for the BAAC with a powerful cloud platform that delivers the best assurances in security. To accomplish this mission, our developers in Thailand used Microsoft Teams as the platform to coordinate work with international employees as well as the BAAC team throughout the 48-hour development window. This allowed everyone to work and communicate smoothly as a team even while remaining safe at home under lockdown. We gave our all to achieve all the goals in this project as we know very well how important this initiative was to the well-being of farmers nationwide.”

Microsoft’s cloud engineers and expert developers from Bluebik worked with the BAAC application development team to design a back-end system built with the right Azure services for the task, ensuring that the site would not only be responsive but also resilient in the face of extremely large amounts of user requests.

“We also built solid foundations for the site with the use of multiple Azure data centers for data processing at any given moment, giving the system exceptional stability and flexibility. Furthermore, we received direct support from the cloud engineering team at Microsoft’s headquarters in the United States throughout the 48-hour windows before and after the site’s launch. These measures gave us the confidence that the site would go live on time and immediately deal with high-demand situations straight from launch,” added Saruj Thipsena, Solution Specialist Manager, Microsoft (Thailand) Limited.

Man in navy blue suit jacketPochara Arayakarnkul, Chief Executive Officer, Bluebik Group Limited, said, “As a leading consulting firm in strategies and management for the age of innovation and technology, Bluebik Group is very proud of our contributions to the development of this website to support farmers affected by COVID-19. We operated as consultants in implementing the site’s systems on Microsoft Azure, and our team worked closely with the Microsoft Thailand working team in planning and managing risks in the site’s IT architecture. Bluebik also proposed solutions for potential technical obstacles that the site may face, ensuring that the BAAC will be able to provide service to farmers on a large scale with no issues.”

Driving digital strategies to provide Thai farmers with access to financial innovations

BAAC previously introduced financial services on mobile devices with its BAAC A-Mobile application, which enables farmers and bank customers to carry out financial transactions digitally in line with today’s lifestyles. The app also fully supports QR code payments for purchasing various products and services, making it a natural fit into BAAC’s plans to help drive the transition from a cash-based society to one driven by electronic payments. This shift has long been part of the bank’s strategy to develop modern, one-stop financial services as well as infrastructure for a national e-payment system.

Apirom Sukprasert, President, BAAC, added: “The website represents another step forward for our digital strategy, which focuses on the adaptation and implementation of technologies in ways that are aligned with the day-to-day life of farmers across the country while also prioritizing the issues of security, confidence, convenience, and suitability first and foremost. This strategy fully supports our overall commitment to develop the economy from the grassroots level and sustainably elevate quality of life for farmers.”

“Modern organizations have to adjust their strategies and objectives to fit current circumstances in an agile and flexible way. In many cases, success now requires cooperation across multiple parties and can no longer be attained by a sole winner. Microsoft is very proud to have brought the processing capabilities and flexibility of Azure to support the BAAC as well as millions of farmers in these times of need, ultimately bringing to life the bank’s strategic vision to enhance its services through digital innovations that respond to the needs of the BAAC’s customer base.”