Meet Foodster, Southeast Asia’s first bank-led retail chatbot

DBS Bank has launched Southeast Asia’s first bank-led retail chatbot, Foodster.

The chat-commerce service allows customers to order and pay for their meals via Facebook Messenger and DBS payment channels, including DBS PayLah! and DBS/POSB cards. It has been test-bedded with seven food and beverage merchants around DBS’ Marina Bay headquarters with positive results.

Kopi Ong, which sells quick-serve beverages, was the first merchant to test the Foodster solution. Since then, the business has seen daily sales grow by 20 per cent without additional manpower or space required.

Chat commerce – e-commerce using chat or messaging platforms – allows businesses to transact within platforms that already have a large pool of captive users. With 77 per cent of Singapore’s population on mobile messaging platforms, chat commerce solutions such as Foodster allow businesses to literally become a part of the conversation by embedding DBS’ payments capabilities within chat platforms.

The Foodster solution was developed with Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning algorithms which allow it to become ‘smarter’ with every transaction. In addition, it allows merchants to implement targeted and personalised customer loyalty programmes on the platform with its rich data tools and analytics.

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DBS head of consumer banking group Jeremy Soo said: “If instant messaging is the way forward for people to communicate, then we need to help businesses find a way to engage their customers on such platforms simply, seamlessly and invisibly. We are aware that consumers today are more likely to have ‘app fatigue’ and have become resistant to downloading new mobile apps. And so as Singapore’s leader in payments with more than 4 million cards in circulation and the nation’s most popular mobile wallet – DBS PayLah! with more than 1 million users – we saw an opportunity to combine our strengths with Singapore’s most widely used social media platform.”

In Asia Pacific, the chatbot market is forecast to generate revenues of around US$350 million by 2024, more than eight times last year’s figures.

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