super app

(Source – Shutterstock)

Google and Robinhood to develop Thailand’s first homegrown super app

The super app is quickly becoming the app of the future for some organizations. In Southeast Asia, several large organizations have already launched their own versions of a super app to cater to the growing demand of their customers.

A super app is basically a unified app that has everything a person needs. This includes ride-hailing services, food delivery, payment wallets, flight and accommodation bookings, groceries, and many more. Currently, there are over a dozen super apps in Southeast Asia, each with its unique offering apart from integrating the other services that are offered in the app.

In Thailand, super apps are available for consumers as well. However, there still isn’t a homegrown super app. The current super apps available in the country are from enterprises that have a strong business presence in the country.

In fact, April Srivikorn, Country Manager, Thailand, Google Cloud pointed out that pandemic-driven shifts in consumer behavior are expected to have a lasting impact, with food and transport, e-commerce, online travel, and digital financial services the key growth verticals in a resurgent internet economy that’s set to be worth US$57 billion by 2025.

As such, Robinhood, a Bangkok-based food delivery and all-in-one travel service platform under SCBX Group, Purple Ventures Co., Ltd., has announced a multi-year strategic alliance with Google Cloud and MFEC Public Company Limited (MFEC) to advance its mission of building a homegrown super app that delivers inclusive growth opportunities to small business owners, delivery riders, and diverse users in metro and non-metro areas. Robinhood had already started planning this since late last year.

Adopting a zero-commissions stance to give small businesses and riders a larger share of earnings, Robinhood was launched to alleviate the financial hardships faced by local food and beverage operators during the height of the pandemic and support the local tourism sector’s economic recovery. The three organizations will join forces to strengthen Robinhood’s culture of innovation, modernize its IT infrastructure, elevate user experiences using data-driven intelligence, and co-create new digital services.

(Source – Google)

According to said Thana Thienachariya, Chairman of the Board, Purple Ventures, Robinhood’s differentiated business model enables them to generate revenue from other independent services, such as providing loans to individuals in their ecosystem, instead of charging smaller restaurants and hoteliers platform fees that erode their earning.

“With a fleet of 30,000 riders supporting 225,000 eateries, and 16,000 hotels already listed on our platform, Robinhood has become the food and travel application of choice for 2.8 million users. Together with Google Cloud and MFEC, we hope to build on the very warm response to our platform in the past 20 months and supercharge our expansion into tour, car rental, flight bookings, and grocery and express parcel delivery services. This super app vision is an extension of our steadfast commitment toward assisting smaller players and revitalizing the grassroots economy.”

On the partnership with Google, Srihanath Lamsam, CEO of Purple Ventures said this was due to Google’s superior data cloud infrastructure which runs with net-zero operational emissions, and its rich experience in mapping the world and building open platforms and ecosystems. These capabilities, along with MFEC’s technical consulting and implementation expertise, will amplify Robinhood’s ability to create value for society, while contributing toward our sustainability commitments.

A new dawn for Thailand’s homegrown super app

The strategic alliance will encompass five core pillars. They are:

  • Cultivating skilled talent and a culture of innovation – the three companies will establish a Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE) consisting of cloud architecture, data management, and application modernization specialists.
  • Enhancing the quality of digital services – the CCoE will tap microservices and extended Google Play Store support to ensure Robinhood’s customer and rider applications remain robust, reliable, and lightweight – even as new services are added and accessed by a high volume of users.
  • Serving hyper-personalized user engagement – the CCoE will build and manage an intelligent data engine using Google Cloud’s leading analytics, AI, and ML technologies. The data engine will also engage Robinhood users with hyper-personalized product recommendations on behalf of small businesses, to boost these merchants’ revenue streams.
  • Increasing income opportunities for riders – Robinhood will explore using Google Maps Platform’s software development kits to fast track the creation and integration of on-demand mobility features. Potential use cases include providing riders with in-app, turn-by-turn navigation after identifying the shortest or fastest routes, so they can ride safer, fulfill orders quicker, and earn more.
  • Making financial assistance easily accessible – Robinhood will explore co-innovation initiatives with Google Cloud to embed virtual banking and microlending services into its application. This would allow small business owners to seamlessly apply for financial assistance to purchase new equipment and hire staff, or for prospective delivery riders to rent electric motorcycles.

“With our newly formed CCoE imparting critical cloud skills, adopting an open cloud architecture, implementing data governance best practices, and automating application deployment, Robinhood can achieve performance at scale, optimize IT costs, uphold the highest data security and privacy standards, and empower its developers to release continuous software updates – without downtime – to enrich its entire digital ecosystem.” Siriwat Vongjarukorn, CEO and President, MFEC.

For Srivikorn, by investing in talent development and tapping the best of Google Cloud, Google Maps, and Google Play to scale sustainably, innovate at high velocity, and extend its social enterprise model into new verticals, Robinhood is well on its way toward delivering a world-class super app that meets diverse digital lifestyle needs and unlocks growth opportunities for all.