IT Company Banks On Success In Thailand

Innovative software geared for the village banking industry in Thailand will be launched during the Invest Northern Ireland business mission to South East Asia, from 20-30th May.

The software, developed by Fern Computer Services of Belfast and aimed at Thailand’s 60,000 village banks, will be among a range of products and services from 24 Northern Ireland companies taking part in the mission to Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

Fern Computer Services , based at the Twin Spires Business Centre in West Belfast, recently signed a substantial contract to provide the software for community finance operations in South Africa.

A longstanding specialist in financial software for credit unions and microfinance operations, Fern employs 16 people and has invested over £2 million in the development of the product, which is internet-enabled, highly flexible and has been geared for banking services. It recently sold the software to a banking operation in Papua New Guinea.

The company currently does business in 20 countries including several in South East Asia. Last year, Eamon Scullin, Fern’s Managing Director, was invited by the Thai Government to be a keynote speaker at a major conference on microfinance including village banking.

Mr Scullin, commenting on the business mission, said: “I’ve found missions to be invaluable in building business overseas. They are a very cost-effective means of reaching new customers and of maintaining regular contact with established clients, especially in distant markets such as those in Asia Pacific.

“The missions are extremely well-organised and offer a small company like Fern access to expert advice and guidance in the marketplace,” he adds.

Alan Hingston, Invest NI’s Trade Director, said “It’s immensely encouraging to see a small IT company making such an important contribution to the development of community-based financial expertise in developing nations.

“Our mission programme is geared to encourage and assist small to medium sized companies in particular to grasp the opportunities developing strongly in emerging markets such as Thailand, India and China. As a result, a number of SMEs are now doing important business in these markets,” he added.

The mission includes a very broad range of Northern Ireland industry, ranging from telecommunications, digital audio technology and biotech to waste management and business services.

The participants include experienced exporters such as Aepona, which recently sold its innovative software to a major telecoms operations, Mivan, a construction company with substantial business in Thailand and Malaysia, and Randox Laboratories, which has supplied its diagnostic products to hospitals and clinics in the region.

The delegation includes a senior officer from the University of Ulster’s International Office. The university, which already has an office in Hong Kong  and is represented in Singapore, is seeking to develop contacts in the higher education sectors in Malaysia and Thailand.