Laotian Super-App Gears up for Cambodia Expansionby Fintech News Singapore August 31, 2023
Laos’ biggest ride-hailing platform and super-app Loca has teamed up with Confluences, a Phnom Penh-based enterprise which specializes in assisting foreign businesses enter the local market, to expand into Cambodia. The move comes just a few months after the company introduced its digital payment service, Loca Pay, in its home country.
The strategic agreement will see Confluences assisting Loca in setting a footprint in the country with some of its most innovative and successful products and services, notably its electric vehicle (EV) taxi fleet, EV charging station locations, and its Loca Pay payment platform.
Confluences will assist Loca with its market access capabilities while its ventures team will also be seeking partnerships to accelerate the app expansion in Cambodia, the company said in a press statement.
Cambodia is Loca’s first market outside of Laos, and marks the start of the app’s regional expansion.
Souliyo Vongdala, CEO and co-founder of Loca, said in a statement that Cambodia was an appealing market for Loca because the government was supportive of sustainable, eco-friendly and innovative products and services.
“With the government supporting such developments, a surging urban population with growing revenues and an increasing green consciousness, a significant mobile penetration, and the advent of a cashless society, the Khmer market presents tremendous opportunities,” he said in a statement.
“At Loca, sustainability, product quality, innovation and convenience with great customer service have always been the key pillars of our development. We believe that our innovative products and environmentally friendly mobility and payment services will meet the needs of Cambodians and we look forward to contributing to the development of the country in the same way we did for Laos.”
Laos’ super-app platform
Established in 2018, Loca is a groundbreaking ride-hailing service headquartered in Vientiane, Laos, and the leading taxi service in the country. With a fleet of over 700 cars and a user base of 100,000, Loca was the first Lao company to be listed as one of Asia’s top 100 companies by Forbes in 2021.
Loca aims to address common issues in the taxi service industry, priding itself on its transparency with standard and transparent pricing, real-time tracking systems, and provided trip histories that ensure customers always know what they are paying for.
The company also prioritizes reliability and safety, requiring all drivers and vehicles to pass an offline verification process and providing real-time support and monitoring. Every driver undergoes a thorough background check, is verified by local authorities, and must possess insurance. Furthermore, every trip made with Loca is insured with APA Insurance for up to LAK 500 million (US$25,500).
Loca supports multiple payment options including major payment cards such as Visa, Mastercard and UnionPay, as well as its own Loca Pay payment system, the national standard for QR payments, Lao QR Code, and cash.
In addition to ride-hailing cars, Loca also provides other services and products including motorcycle rides, express deliveries, grocery deliveries, insurance purchases through the Loca app, EV financing, an EV fast charging network, and its own payment service, Loca Pay.
Launched in December 2022, Loca Pay is a built-in digital payment capability available in the Loca app. The service uses QR codes to make it easier and more secure for customers to pay. Users simply need to link their payment card once to start paying using the Loca app by scanning Lao QR Codes.
By introducing Loca Pay, the company said at the time that it targeted tourists visiting Laos whom prefer to use digital payments instead of cash. At the same time, it said that the Loca Pay system was designed in the way that allowed local merchants to tap into the opportunity in fast and efficient manner, and without the need of possessing a card reader.
Pushing for cashless payments
The rise and expansion of Loca come at a time when the Lao government is pushing for digital payment usage by introducing more capabilities to its Lao QR Code system. Earlier this month, Laos and Cambodia launched the first phase of the cross-border QR code payments project between the two countries.
In this phase, Cambodians with a bank account in their home country and in their local currency, the riel, will be able to use their mobile banking app to make digital payments in Laos by scanning Lao QR Codes at merchants and shops.
In the second phase of the project, Lao people will be able to access the capability. Those with bank accounts in their local currency, the kip, will be able to pay for goods or services through their mobile banking app by scanning KHQR codes at merchants or shops in Cambodia. KHQR is a universal QR code system for retail cashless payments in Cambodia.
The Bank of Lao PDR (BOT) launched the Lao QR Code system in January 2020 to boost cashless payments and ensure that payment methods available in the country are in line with the pace of international payment developments.