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Thai entrepreneur spearheads Garena Online

MANEERUT Anulomsombut, chief executive officer of Garena Online (Thailand), is spearheading Garena’s expansion into the fields of e-payment and e-shopping from its base in the online gaming business.

A Stanford University graduate, Maneerut – nicknamed “Nok” – is a former classmate of Stanford MBA alumnus Forrest Li, who founded Garena in 2009 and turned it into Singapore’s first “unicorn” tech start-up with valuation topping US$1 billion (Bt35.6 billion).
A leading publisher of online games, including “League of Legends”, “Point Blank” and “Fifa”, Garena – which stands for “Global Arena” – aims to be a platform for gaming, e-commerce and payment, similar to China’s Tencent and Alibaba.
Garena’s Airpay, launched about two years ago, serves as an e-payment platform for online gamers, who can also use virtual cards issued in cooperation with MasterCard and Thailand’s Thanachart Bank to pay for other products and services purchased online via Garena’s Shoppe e-commerce site, Mannerut said.
For Thai customers, they can top up the virtual cards at 85,000 locations, including Internet cafes and convenience stores.
Regarding Shoppe, there are now about 100,000 vendors on the e-commerce site offering mainly fashion and lifestyle products, including airline and movie tickets. Shoppe downloads in Thailand have totalled 4 million so far, with females aged 18-35 among the main customer groups.
To leverage Garena’s strength in the online gaming business, customers will be offered a seamless experience using a single ID for all gaming, payment and shopping services.
Garena currently operates in seven Asian markets, with Taiwan, Thailand and Indonesia among the major outlets for online gaming and sales of in-game items and payment fees among the company’s major revenue sources.
Allen Hsu, Garena Online (Thailand)’s general manager for games operation, said Garena had also tapped into the e-sports segment in Thailand, with memorandums of understanding signed with Bangkok University and Dhurakij Pundit University for cooperation in the area of e-sports gaming curriculums.
Garena earlier planned to hold a major e-sports competition in the Kingdom featuring the “League of Legends” game on November 12-13, but the venue was moved to Taiwan due to national mourning following the passing of His Majesty the King.
“There were several tens of thousands of players and spectators following this annual e-sports competition online and offline, as we also live-streamed the event. Sadly, we had to move the venue, but we plan to hold the competition in Thailand again next year,” Hsu said. 
“In fact, ‘League of Legends’ is one of the world’s most popular online games, with a total of more than 70 million players around the globe. In Thailand alone, about 5,000 people participated in the annual competition. The last ‘League of Legends’ World Championship attracted more than 36 million spectators worldwide.
“In Thailand, there are about 30,000 Internet cafes for players of high-performance games. For many, these places also serve as social venues for youngsters and students after school,” the general manager said.
“Besides the PC-based games, we have mobile games which have also become popular lately, especially for shorter games that you can play within five to 10 minutes.
“For Thailand, the potential for e-sports is huge as its eco-system for e-sports is vast, covering not only game players and spectators, but also game developers, publishers, casters and marketers, among others,” he explained. For Garena, gaming generates as much as 60 per cent of the company’s revenue, said Hsu.
“We are planning for next year’s big event as we position Thailand as a centre for e-sports in Southeast Asia, which will also benefit the country’s tourism sector, especially with a focus on younger tourists who are also keen to play e-sports here,” he added.

Published : November 25, 2016