In the US, every bank wants to become a tech savvy company, every tech company wants to eventually become a bank.
In Thailand, banks wants to get into the most money bleeding sector; food. We’re joking, just slightly.
Within the past couple of weeks both Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) and Kasikorn Bank (K Bank) rolled out their own food related initiatives, Robinhood and Eatable.
Of course, the big banks don’t want to just get into food delivery and food services to get into the food business. As all corporate innovation conferences tell you, data is the new oil.
What better way to get a boatload of new, usable data than to launch a food delivery app and potentially connect new merchants up in order to sign them up for a possible loan scheme?
Robinhood: another way to order food
Siam Commercial Bank’s Robinhood is purely a food delivery play with a budget of only THB100 million, which is small for an initiation of this scale. Food delivery platforms bleed money and their selling point is that they won’t take any GP from restaurant owners. SCB will be working with messenger platform Skootar as its delivery partner.
Eatable: a competing solution
Kasikorn Bank rolled out Eatable through its business technology unit, KBTG. Eatable isn’t a food delivery app, but an all rounded platform that will aim to help restaurant owners transition online. Restaurants can sign up and have their menu uploaded online, and become a merchant on the platform right away. For the customer, they can simply scan the menu’s QR code whilst in store, so they wouldn’t have to physically touch the menu. Eatable also has a delivery option, where they can opt for takeaway or select one of the app’s delivery partners to deliver the food.
Like Robinhood, Eatable won’t take any GP from the merchants, thereby saving their costs.
Why food delivery?
Our take? Covid-19 in Thailand has hopefully reached its tail end, and to create an app purely to minimize physical contact or simply become another player in the crowded food delivery space seems out of touch. This is why there must be more to the product.
K Bank says that Eatable is a platform that will help restaurants, not just a delivery app, but one of its core features is in fact, delivery.
What’s interesting to note is that the two big banks are often always in sync in launching competing products, with Covid-19 transforming the way we engage with businesses and dine out (perhaps only for a short period), it seems like banks want to quickly capture the trend.
Launching Eatable is one way to understand merchants, customers and the restaurant business, as well as their demand, cash flows and operational cost in general. These are all very valuable information for banks, and this is likely the larger play at hand. The question is, will be eventually become a costly, expensive experiment? With semi-local players such as Grab and Line already dominating the large food delivery market in Thailand, banks must also carve out their own set of benefits to sway the consumer i.e. more credit card points with long distance orders, or whatnot.
Otherwise, the unit economics will surely eat into their marketing budget and both Eatable and Robinhood will simply be left as marketing gimmicks.