Bangkok’s street-food vendors are embracing mobile payments

Scene of street food vendors in the famous Huamum night market which is very popular among locals on Aug 16, 2017 in Bangkok. Source: Shutterstock

Street-food vendors in Bangkok are embracing the digital revolution by offering e-payment methods for cashless transactions via smartphones.

Thailand is popular among tourists for its traditional street stalls that sell everything from stir-fried noodles to clothes. For many Thais, eating out at a pavement stall is part of their daily routine.

Now, some vendors in the capital Bangkok are offering cashless payments after the Bank of Thailand (BOT) gave the green light for five banks to implement electronic payment systems using Quick Response (QR) barcodes.

On a street called Phahon Yothin 7, Bamnika Sonthi, who sells mango sticky rice, uses a printout of her personal QR code, which customers would scan, and place the price before confirming the payment. The seller will instantly receive a notification of the payment on her smartphone.

“Not as many people use it now, but they will in the future,” Banika said, as quoted by Eater.

The two-block stretch of road where Banika does business is home to about 40 vendors, nearly all of which are picking up on mobile payment. Typically, transactions range anywhere from THB5 to THB70 (or USD$0.15 to USD$2.11), according to Eater.

“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.

An advertisement board displaying a QR code is seen as a vendor works at a market in Bangkok, Thailand, November 22, 2017. Picture taken Nov 22, 2017. Source: 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. Somsak said Thailand needs to ensure QR payment systems are secure.

“We need to make people feel comfortable in using the system,” he said

But the risk of fraud does not deter fish curry puff vendor, Chaiwat Kanom Pansip, from taking part of the program.

“Thailand is so behind on these things, so it’s nice we can say we have started to use cashless payments.”