Dining goes digital for street food vendors

Dining goes digital for street food vendors

An advertisement board displaying a QR code is seen as a vendor waits for customers at a market in Bangkok, Thailand, on Wednesday. (Reuters photo)
An advertisement board displaying a QR code is seen as a vendor waits for customers at a market in Bangkok, Thailand, on Wednesday. (Reuters photo)

Bangkok's famous street-food vendors have joined the digital revolution, embracing payment via Quick Response (QR) barcodes that can be read using smartphones.

Vendors in the capital are offering digital transactions after the Bank of Thailand (BoT) last week gave the green light for five banks including Bangkok Bank and Siam Commercial Bank to implement electronic payment systems using QR codes.

"The global trend is towards a 'cashless society' as it is more convenient and there is proof of transaction. The QR code system would be most practical in Thailand as less investment is needed on behalf of vendors," Somsak Khaosuwan, Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, told Reuters.

At Samyan Market, a market and shopping area in Bangkok that sells everything from vegetables to handbags, vendors said QR codes were taking off although some shoppers still prefer to use cash, particularly those who are less tech-savvy.

"I don't need to worry about finding change," said Kitti Khoonphisitwong, 40, a dried-fruit vendor.

"But most customers, especially older people, find the app a hassle," he said.

Shoppers in their 20s and 30s said they were more inclined to use the system.

"I often shop online so I have no issue with digital transactions," said Thanachanok Teesakul, 20, a student.

Scams using fraudulent QR codes are on the rise in China, where digital payments are booming. Mr Somsak said Thailand needs to ensure QR payment systems are secure.

"We need to make people feel comfortable in using the system," he said. 

Mobile QR payments are one of the issues to be discussed in the three-day "Thailand E-commerce Week 2017" event starting Thursday at Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre.

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