FSS top-up machines adding refreshments


MAI-listed Forth Smart Service (FSS) is giving its online prepaid top-up and payment machines an added function — as a vending machine for soft drinks and ready-to-drink beverages.

FSS, which is 45% owned by SET-listed Forth Corporation, is jumping on the burgeoning e-commerce bandwagon to add capabilities and functionalities to its top-up machines.

Converting the machines to handle a wide range of vending services is part of the group's strategy to become a digital avenue for dispensing products and services, said Pongchai Amatanon, managing director of FSS."We aim to become like 7-Eleven convenience stores in the future, but selling products and services from our online vending machines," he said.

FSS's beverage vending machines have the capacity to hold a few dozen items such as soft drinks, ready-to-drink green tea, coffee and energy drinks.

The machines operate on back-end system software. The company expects roughly 28,000 baht in daily revenue at each machine.

FSS plans to replace 500 existing top-up machines with the beverage vending machines this year and raise the total to 30,000 kiosks over the next three years.Since its founding in mid-2009, FSS has installed 45,000 electronic top-up and payment machines.

Some 40,000 of them offer the online top-up service known as Boonterm, which lets prepaid mobile users top up their phones.

The remaining 5,000 machines let customers make self-service online bill payments.

"We plan to add 10,000 online top-up machines plus an additional 5,000 bill-payment machines annually," Mr Pongchai said.

FSS developed its own software for the vending machines and hired manufacturers in Japan to make the kiosks.

FSS's strong engineering teams and advanced research and development facilities have enabled the company to write customised applications integrating advanced capabilities and functionalities into the machines, Mr Pongchai said.

FSS will soon launch new e-commerce software to let customers place orders for mobile devices and other consumer products via the online machines and take delivery of the items at partner shops like TWZ, a leading mobile handset distributor.

Boonterm machines raked in 10.4 billion baht last year from almost 500 million online top-up transactions.

On average, FSS earns a 12% fee from the transactions.

The company's new banner ad service has also created a lucrative revenue stream of up to 80 million baht this year.

FSS has 16 million active users.

"We aim for our top-up service transactions to reach 15 billion baht this year and rise to 20 billion in 2016," Mr Pongchai said.

FSS recently was chosen by TOT Plc to provide combination payphone/top-up machines under the first phase of a partnership with the state telecom enterprise.

Prepaid mobile users of any operator's service can top up phones and make calls at 1,000 TOT public phone booths in high-traffic areas.

Up to 20,000 of the machines will be deployed within three years.

Last year, FSS reported 1.17 billion baht in revenue. Net profit reached 153 million baht.

The company expects revenue to grow to 1.5 billion baht this year, thanks to the rising popularity of refilling prepaid airtime and paying bills online among consumers seeking greater convenience.

Net profit is tipped to nearly double to 300 million baht this year as FSS benefits from a fixed cost base and new revenue streams.

FSMART shares closed Friday on the Market for Alternative Investment at 12 baht, up 20 satang, in trade worth 13.4 million baht.

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