To mark its 140th anniversary Thailand Post decided to launch its first crypto stamp series – demonstrating a new page in the Post’s history. We spoke to Dhanant Subhadrabandhu, CEO of Thailand Post to find out more about the popularity of the stamps, the Post’s new policies to support e-commerce and his priorities for 2023.
Why did Thailand Post decide to move away from the physical stamp?
Actually we are not moving away from physical stamps but we are embracing NFTs too. As you know physical stamps have been with us for a very long time but today, in order to post a parcel or a letter it is not always necessary to have a stamp on every transaction.
We are the only organisation in Thailand that can issue stamps so stamps still have value but as our traditional stamp collecting community is getting older, we had to think about how we can bring the popularity of stamps to Gen Z.
Why don’t Gen Z have the same interest in traditional stamps?
Today technology is moving so fast there are lots of other ways to communicate so people don’t write letters as much as they used to. Most younger people have never used stamps or even touched one so they don’t understand their value – they are used to a less physical world.
What did you decide to do to attract Gen Z’s attention?
Gen Z like digital assets like crypto currency so we decided to launch the NFT to attract their interest and establish a new stamp community.
How digital is Thailand in general?
Digital adoption in Thailand is moving very fast. We have more than 100% mobile phone penetration and Gen Z are using their iPhones around four or five hours a day. Almost all their communication is done via social media. Malaysia is one of top users of Facebook in the world and we are one of the top countries using LINE for communication (a messenger similar to WhatsApp).
What makes Thai Post’s crypto stamp special?
This was our first crypto stamp issue so it is particularly special to us and as we only produced a limited print run of 50,000 they are rare so they are more sought after. We issued the crypto stamps along with physical stamps with a face value of Bt140, which can be used to send parcels with Thailand Post.
How is each stamp unique?
Each NFT stamp features unique artwork and colours. Each stamp is also printed with a hidden code, revealed by scratching its surface. The hidden code can be used to redeem an NFT stamp.
Can you tell me about the artwork?
We used 18 NFT artists who are very famous in the NFT community in Thailand and have lots of followers. The designers created stamps which have graphic elements that are symbols of the Thai postal business, such as red, stripes, postboxes, and logos to convey the cooperation between Thailand Post and the NFT community in Thailand. The stamps are divided into five levels of rarity – Common, Uncommon, Rare, Epic, and Legend. Legend is the most popular and the rarest – there are only 140 legend stamps out of 50,000 NFT stamps issued. The unique thing about this level is the distinctive texture of the pigeon with the perforated border.
What age group are buying your crypto stamps?
Mostly it’s 30 – 40 year olds.
How different is the process of creating crypto stamps compared to traditional stamps?
The process of creating the NFTs is completely different. Blockchain technology is actually very new to us in Thailand and in order to create a crypto stamp we had to first consult with the Security and Exchange Commission of Thailand about the laws and regulations of creating NFTs as well as regulating the community and selling them on a digital platform. Whereas we don’t need to consult anyone to issue a physical standard stamp!
This sounds like a big obstacle – why was it important for Thailand Post to pursue the crypto stamp project?
Even though Thailand Post has provided postal services for almost 140 years, we still adapt to new technology and the digital world in order to meet our customers’ needs. So, adaptation is significant for our service.
How popular were the crypto stamps?
We released the crypto stamps on August the 18th and about 6,000 pieces were pre-ordered. People were really excited about the crypto stamp because it was Thailand’s first one – we regularly launch traditional physical collections but this was something new. To get the word out we promoted the NFTs through Thailand Post’s main media channels for existing customers and through the NFT artist channels for new targets. More than 25,000 pieces have been sold in total.
Do you think working on crypto stamps has made Thailand Post more creative?
Definitely, we have learnt to be a lot more open and creative to create value for our new buyers. The physical and digital stamps have to fit together in a parallel world so we have learnt how to bridge the online and offline seamlessly.
Do you have any plans to release a new crypto stamp in 2023?
Yes we are still working on the design, working on the uniqueness factor and looking at how to make it an interesting product to our audience. The fans of our first series are looking forward to their release.
Do you think the crypto stamp has changed how people see Thailand Post?
Oh absolutely and this was one of our objectives. Our company has a long traditional important history but we also want to keep up with technology and I think people have recognised that now.
THAILAND POST’S PRIORITIES
Is e-commerce still popular in Thailand?
Definitely. In the last few years, we have a very high growth of maybe 30%, particularly as a result of COVID. While at the moment people are being very careful with spending and very conscious about what they are spending their money on, making it hard for us to plan however 10/10 [ equivalent to Black Friday] was very busy for us – we received four or five times the normal volumes that week.
How are you supporting e-commerce in Thailand?
We are trying to focus more on b2b and supporting their e-commerce and fulfilment needs. We now offer cash on delivery so consumers only pay merchants once they receive their e-commerce delivery. The service benefits both merchants and consumers as it improves merchants’ cash flow and enhances consumer confidence in merchant service. We also launched digital post ID at the end of last year.
What is digital post ID?
Digital post ID is a service customers can use so they don’t have to reveal address information on their labels instead they are given a ‘digital ID’ post offices or logistics providers have QR code label printers that digitally attach a post ID to parcels or envelopes. Digital Post ID is aimed at both business and individuals who want to maintain and protect their personal information in online transactions while also ensuring the accuracy of addressing and delivery of postal items. Moreover, it can be used in navigation in various situations such as delivery route planning and provision of assistance in emergency cases.
Can you tell me about Thailand Post’s postal banking?
Because we partner with two banks – Siam Commercial Bank Public Company Limited and Small and Medium Enterprise Development Bank of Thailand, we can offer businesses micro loans. And based on the logistics information that we have (volumes individual sellers, sell) the can use this information to calculate their credit score and provide a loan.
Crypto stamps aside, what are your priorities for 2023?
Thailand Post’s businesses are complex. Our core business is postal and logistics. On the postal side we are the only company who is sending and delivering letters. But on the logistics side there are many providers in Thailand and everybody is competing. And because of the economic landscape people are concerned about pricing and there is now a price war. So, one of our key priorities is to differentiate ourselves – by quality and also by coverage. We have the largest network coverage in Thailand as we cover all the islands and the mountains and the more remote villages.
And, in terms quality we are very focused on the standard of our transactions. We are working closely with vertical sectors including healthcare, farming and manufacturing and trying to see what they really need on the logistics side. We believe that different parcels (eg coal, fresh seafood and medicine) need different logistics systems, as they have different requirements, and separating them out will ensure we make the best quality delivery.
Is sustainability a concern for Thailand Post?
Yeah, definitely – it is another of our priorities for 2023. We are focusing a lot on the ESG. We have already started replacing our fleet with EVs and we are also redesigning our routes to optimise them and reduce the number of kilometres we have to travel. There is going to be a lot more of that next year. Next year going to have more than 30 stations using solar energy including the head office and warehouses – places where we use lots of power. Thailand Post has been delivering for 140 years and we plan to deliver to the Thai people for many hundreds of years to come. That’s why sustainability is so important to us.
About Dhanant Subhadrabandhu
Dr. Dhanant Subhadrabandhu received a PhD in Electrical and Systems Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, USA. His areas of expertise cover a wide range of both technical and business perspectives including network planning and design, product management, marketing, corporate strategic planning, organization development and regulatory affairs. Acknowledged for his extensive experiences and backgrounds in his career, Dr. Dhanant has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of Thailand Post with effect from 17 May 2021.