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business

Small change adds up to vision for big business


RUNGROJ PETCHKEOW, a co-founder of start-up Coinex, has come up with an innovative business model to manage the huge supply of Thai coins no longer needed by foreign visitors as they leave the country.

“In fact, our business model is to provide a digital money service to international travellers who cannot get coins changed into their national currency at the airport.” Rungroj said.
“Most have to take this small change back home and in most cases they become useless. On the other hand, about Bt3 billion worth of Thai coins leave the country annually, requiring the Royal Thai Mint to produce replacement coins to ensure an adequate supply of coins in domestic circulation. “As a result, we’ve decided to create machines to accept the coins from foreign tourists at the airport. Afterwards, we need to figure out how to transfer the funds to those tourists.
“Since each transaction is relatively small, averaging only Bt50-200 per tourist, so we need a digital money solution.”
Rungroj said that upon arrival at an airport departure terminal, tourists can put their change into the machines and opt to receive their credit digitally.
“One option is to get a credit amount in an e-wallet, namely, bitcoin, Alipay, PayPal or WeChat Pay, as most tourists already have these e-wallet accounts, Next, users need to give their email address and get a confirmation code on the transfer of digital money into their personal accounts,” Rungroj said.
“We’re testing prototypes at Don Muang airport. Our minimum service is Bt20 per transaction. If the change is less than that amount, tourists may choose to donate the money to various charities or they may convert the amount into a gift voucher for duty-free shopping at various locations.”
“We’ve held talks with duty-free shop operator King Power and The Mall Group.”
Rungroj said that, in terms of economic benefits, his company’s service helps the country save a significant amount on minting new coins, given that Thailand draws as many as 30 million foreign tourists a year.
“Since about Bt3 billion worth of Thai coins are gone annually due to the tourism industry, we have to produce new coins at a relatively high cost,” Rungroj said. 
“A Bt1 coin, for example, costs Bt1.80 to mint, so our service has the potential to help save as much as Bt5.4 billion per year.
“The Coinex machine uses the blockchain technology and locally developed C-Coin as a cryptographic currency allowing the money transfer to be completed in from 30 seconds to three minutes. This is faster than bitcoin in terms of money transfer.
“We also plan to extend the service to e-commerce platforms since using credit cards to pay for small items is quite expensive so we can get more saving using the digital currency, especially for micro-transactions.
 Rungroj said Coinex can handle transactions as small as Bt0.25 per item. 
“The fee will be very small, making it a practical e-payment gateway for micro-items,” Rungroj said.
 “Regarding the Coinex business model, we will collect a transaction fee amounting to 10-20 per cent of the value of coins. 
“We also allow ads on our terminals’ screens. In addition, we will also supply a large amount of small change to vendors who need them at a fee and will work with the Royal Thai Mint on collecting coins for them.”
 

Published : May 26, 2017

By : NOPHAKHUN LIMSAMARNPHUN THE NATION