THE public should not be obsessed with branded online platforms and instead support online platforms of local companies.
Bayan Baru MP Sim Tze Tzin said online platforms by local companies that feature petty traders and hawkers have helped them adapt to e-commerce to stay resilient, especially during the trying times of the movement control order (MCO).
He said petty traders and hawkers, who are slowly but surely making an effort to go digital, were the most affected during the MCO.
“The big brands do not have the time to help small-time traders.
“So, it is time now for small businesses to embrace and explore the digital economy.
“It was during the MCO, while distributing aid to the needy, that I realised that we are only giving fish and not teaching those affected how to fish. This is not sustainable.
“This was how this idea for an app for petty traders and hawkers to be less dependent on conventional methods of doing their businesses was born,” he said after launching the Bayan Baru Digital Food Court on Friday.
The digital food court is accessed through an app called M2M (Merchant-to-Merchant).
Sim said the effort saw 40 out of the 137 food operators at the food court in Penang taking part.
“People here are ready and aware of the need for digital economy transformation.
“With this in mind, I set up a task force to look into this and we engaged the help of a technology company to come out with an app to make it easy for small-time businesses to join the online platform to market and sell their products,” he said.
Sim added that the task force is aimed at expanding the initiative to hawkers at other food courts in markets in Sungai Dua, Sungai Ara, Batu Maung and Jelutong.
“We are also targetting to get pasar malam traders,” he said.
Sim encouraged local companies to create online platforms to help the small traders.
Infinitepay’s chief executive officer and co-founder Danny Jang said the company built M2M for customers to order food for self-pick up or delivery and be entitled for e-vouchers and e-membership.
Customers pay for their orders using e-wallets or cash.
“I noticed that since the MCO, more small businesses are keen on joining online platforms. Our aim is to help them transform from being offline to online.
“By being online, food traders are able to reach out to a
bigger market,” Jang said, adding that initially it was a challenge to convince the traders to join the platform.
Sim said it was a big leap for some of the hawkers at the food court to convert to e-commerce as some of them had been using the conventional method for more than 30 years.
“It was not easy to convince them to transform overnight. However, once customers start using e-payment, then the traders will also have to adapt,” he said.
He noted that e-payment, which is contactless, also reduced the risk of spreading the coronavirus.
“I believe that in about two to three years’ time, we will hardly be carrying physical cash,” he said.
Also present were Penang Island City councillor Mohd Suhairi Abdullah, Penang Hawkers’ Association president Datuk Lam Tong Ying, Bayan Baru Market Traders Association chairman Tan Ken Keong and Bayan Baru Food Complex Traders Association chairman Roy Ang Poh Huat.