Mobile payments

Foodpanda may roll out e-wallet, keeping pace with Hong Kong’s embrace of cashless economy

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 November, 2017, 6:37pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 November, 2017, 10:31pm

As part of a mobile payments push, Foodpanda could launch an e-wallet service for its food delivery business, according to a company executive.

Arun Makhija, Foodpanda Hong Kong’s newly-appointed managing director, told the South China Morning Post that a wallet system where customers could top up credit for orders is “already on the agenda”.

He added that Germany-based Delivery Hero, which acquired Foodpanda from Rocket Internet last December, already has a tech team looking into developing a wallet. Delivery Hero also owns Foodora, another food delivery company previously owned by Rocket Internet.

“Foodpanda is constantly pushing the boundaries of what a customer thinks they want from food delivery,” Makhija said.

The digital wallet concept for online services is on the rise in Asia. Singapore-based ride-hailing company Grab and Indonesia’s Go-jek have both launched digital wallets that allow users to store top-up credits that can be used towards future orders. Having users buy credit for future orders also helps increase a company’s cash flow compared to when users are making one-time payments for each order.

Since Foodpanda’s launch in Hong Kong three years ago, its iconic panda logo and its delivery riders’ orange shirts have become synonymous with food delivery.

Last month, the company underwent a global rebranding, changing its company colour to hot pink and updating its panda logo to look more “modern” as it strives to present a bolder image in line with the company’s “young, creative, dynamic and energetic” culture, Makhija said.

The company is just one of several food delivery companies in Hong Kong battling for market share. Its largest rival in the city is Deliveroo, and the two often compete head to head when it comes to shaving down delivery times and expanding both restaurant and delivery coverage.

Both Deliveroo and Foodpanda are expanding aggressively in Kowloon after conquering Hong Kong Island, claiming they can get a meal to you in about 30 minutes and possibly even less in certain neighbourhoods like Central and Sheung Wan, where restaurant and customer density is higher.

I don’t think we’d be where we are today in Hong Kong if not for that push of competition
Arun Makhija, Foodpanda Hong Kong

“I don’t think we’d be where we are today in Hong Kong if not for that push of competition,” Makhija said, adding that he did not see Hong Kong as a “winner takes all” food delivery market.

“I think there’s room in this market for a few players. Currently we’re coexisting and growing well. Competition keeps us on our toes. We have reference points on what’s working and what isn’t and we can learn from each other.”

Both companies also recently launched a programme where delivery employees are stationed within specific areas and make deliveries on foot instead of on motorcycles.

Foodpanda is also currently trying out the use of bicycles for deliveries in certain parts of the New Territories as it looks to expand its delivery coverage to the area. The company recently included Tsuen Wan in its delivery network, and is looking to add Tseung Kwan O next.

“What we’re focusing on [this year] and the first half of 2018 is to expand rapidly, into the New Territories and the south side of the island to fill out a lot of our uncovered territory,” Makhija said.

“Before we enter new areas we must make sure that there is sufficient restaurant inventory and the right rider fleet to support it, because service is important and we always focus on the customer.”

Foodpanda is also moving to include smaller restaurants and cha chaan tengs - Hong Kong-style cafes – to its restaurant list so customers have a wider range of food to choose from.