Robinhood set to extend reach into OTA services


Thana Thienachariya, board chairman at Purple Ventures, the operator of Robinhood
Thana Thienachariya, board chairman at Purple Ventures, the operator of Robinhood

Online food delivery service provider Robinhood has vowed to double its investment budget to 300 million baht this year as it expands its reach into online travel agent (OTA) services.

The platform still maintains no gross profit (GP) or commission fees collected from the operators, which is aimed at supporting 30,000 small and medium-sized hoteliers across the country.

The move is expected to heap pressure on various foreign apps to reduce GP fees collected from local operators.

“By early next year, the company will launch a new version of Robinhood app to support small and medium-size enterprises [SMEs] in the hospitality business with the new feature of OTA,” Thana Thienachariya, board chairman at Purple Ventures, the operator of Robinhood, told the Bangkok Post. Purple Ventures is a subsidiary of Siam Commercial Bank (SCB).

At least 30,000 SMEs in the hotel business are expected to join the platform out of 50,000 across the country, Mr Thana said.

“We will use zero commission similar to online food delivery,” he said.

OTA service operators normally apply a charge of 15-20% to hoteliers.

“Robinhood would like to be an alternative platform for domestic travellers and hotel operators,” said Mr Thana.

Foreign OTA operators are still major players in the market.

Mr Thana said Robinhood regards itself as a social enterprise.

“We hope to give support during the pandemic and pile pressure on existing players in the market,” he said.

“We are the first player with a zero GP rate and we are not burning money for marketing campaigns to draw users. Now rival players are pressured to reduce their GP rate,” said Mr Thana.

SCB has around 6,000 hotels as customers for financial services.

The investment budget has been pushed up from 150 million baht to 300 million baht for Robinhood, which will be used for rider payment subsidy, discounts for food prices to assist food merchants as well as development of the OTA feature.

Robinhood has registered 1 million downloads since it was launched in October 2020 — faster than earlier predictions that it would reach this by the end of this year. The third wave of the pandemic is believed to have accelerated use of the app.

On the platform, the average spending per order is 300 baht, which is higher than other players in the industry of around 200 baht.

Robinhood aims to reach a market share of 10% among both food and hotel app operators.

According to Mr Thana, 150,000 local merchants are expected to join the platform by year-end, up from 90,000 at present.

The platform aims to offer more services, such as express delivery and grocery shopping at marts.

Robinhood will consider charging GP for mart partners that are big supermarkets, he said.

Robinhood embraces the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud and artificial intelligence technology for market personalization.

Srihanath Lamsam, managing director of Robinhood, said his platform has helped 90,000 small merchants to receive over 2.3 million orders worth over 500 million baht. The platform also creates opportunities for over 15,500 delivery riders.

The platform plans to expand its service to Chiang Mai and Chon Buri later this year and in June will work with partners to pilot a service providing electric motorcycle rentals to delivery riders.



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