November 23, 2017 / 5:23 AM / 24 days ago

Dining goes digital for Thailand's street food vendors

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

Thailand is famous for its traditional street stalls that offer everything from stir-fried noodles to clothes and for many Thais eating out at a pavement stall is part of their daily routine.

Now, some vendors in the capital Bangkok 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.

An advertisement board displaying a QR code is seen as a vendor works at a market in Bangkok, Thailand, November 22, 2017. Picture taken November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

“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.

Reporting by Suphanida Thakral; Editing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Eric Meijer

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