Thailand’s commercial banks set up food business platforms to facilitate deliveries
By Valaiporn Chalermlapvoraboon
BANGKOK, NNA—Siam Commercial Bank Public Co. (SCB) and Kasikorn Bank Co., two of Thailand’s top banks by assets, have set up food management platforms as the novel coronavirus pandemic has led to greater demand for deliveries.
Food operators have been allowed to reopen their businesses after domestic coronavirus cases were brought under control. But the delivery sector is likely to remain robust as Thai consumers, wary of a possible second wave of infections, have grown more hygiene conscious.
SCB unveiled its investment of 100 million baht ($3.15 million) on June 23 in “Robinhood,” a food delivery platform operated by Purple Ventures Co., a new subsidiary of SCB’s venture service unit, SCB 10X Co.
“Food delivery has become a new way of people’s daily lives,” Srihanath Lamsam, managing director of Purple Ventures, told NNA. “We hope that our alternative platform could enable small merchants to be competitive in a fair and transparent game.”
Robinhood was created to support smaller street food vendors, restaurants and merchants with a no-charge food delivery application. Food delivery applications and platforms typically collect 20 to 35 percent of gross profit (GP) from registered restaurants, according to Lamsam.
As a result, restaurants would have to pay at least 100 baht per order to equalize costs for deliverymen, buyers, restaurants and the platform. Restaurants would also have to pay an additional 7 percent to cover sales tax.
“We found that local food merchants face sharp GP fees, while customers are seeking food at the same price as dine-in options,” said Lamsam.
The application aims to charge 10 percent from larger restaurant operators with over five branches or locations.
During Thailand’s lockdown period, consumers complained they had to pay more than usual for food delivery services.
“The delivery fees are more than double the price of the food I planned to buy,” family business owner Suwannee C., 57, told NNA.
Delivery fees to her location outside of central Bangkok would normally cost her 200 to 300 baht, but she said she paid 500 baht during the lockdown.
Robinhood will partner up with Skootar, a document delivery service launched in 2014. Skootar charges a basic 55-baht delivery fee and an additional 10 baht per kilometer.
Kasikorn Bank has also established a platform for restaurants and food service operators, to promote efficiency and the concept of a “contactless society.”
Its subsidiary, Kasikorn Business Technology Group (KBTG), set up “Eatable” to support food delivery and dine-in consumers. KBTG has previously developed platforms for schools, hospitals and banks.
“During the lockdown, we have studied consumers’ behavior and we found that they often complained about the menu, especially while ordering food through applications,” KBTG engineer Surasak Chantasirichot told NNA.
Menus for food delivery applications are usually displayed through pictures and pdf files, which can be cumbersome for both vendors and customers. On the “Eatable” platform, vendors can manage their menus with QR codes, through which they can also facilitate payment and coordinate deliveries.
KBTG is currently negotiating with Chinese payment companies such as WeChat and Alipay to support Chinese tourists, Surasak said, adding that details on capital investment and revenue contribution remain undisclosed.
“Eatable answers to the contactless society we currently live in,” Surasak said.