Mlabs to provide free WiFi in Bangkok's Chatuchak Market

PETALING JAYA: Mlabs Systems Bhd, which has seen active trading in its shares for the past month, has teamed up with Thailand’s Onliner Company Limited for the provision of free WiFi and e-commerce services in Bangkok’s Chatuchak Market.

The Chatuchak Market houses 15,000 shops and is open six days a week. It is known as one of the world’s largest weekend market covering 27 acres with some 200,000 visitors each Saturday and Sunday, 30% of whom are foreign visitors.

“The amount that we are initially going to put in (for this project) is up to a maximum of RM800,000. It includes all hardware, software, expertise and later, if we require additional funds, we will look into it,” Mlabs director Professor Sureswaran Ramadass told reporters at the signing ceremony yesterday.

Under the collaboration agreement, Mlabs’ wholly owned subsidiary Multimedia Research Lab Sdn Bhd (MRL) will provide multimedia video conferencing and related technology while Onliner will manage the day-to-day operations of the project, its WiFi and e-commerce services and facilities.

Onliner currently holds a five-year concession from the State Railway of Thailand to set up and provide WiFi services in Chatuchak Market. The concession began in November 2016. Presently, the WiFi service is already deployed and operational.

The project will enable the bargaining of pricing for bulk purchases via video streaming between buyers worldwide and retailers in Chatuchak. Onliner and MRL will also jointly develop the Chatuchak app, which will be launched in January 2018.

Plans are also under way for e-payment or e-wallet for a safer, cashless market place. Expected revenue streams will come from inter-alia video advertising, multiple gateway advertising and e-commerce services.

“Our platform includes indoor mapping. It is a navigator, like Google maps and Waze. Imagine you are walking into Chatuchak and you don’t know where to go. If you are looking for some product, you can search in the app and it will point you to the shop. The indoor mapping is through WiFi. We have already installed 150 access points in the area,” said Onliner managing director Shane Suwannaphan.

“This app can do many things including indoor mapping, e-commerce, online shopping, live streaming and live chat. We will probably invest more than RM1 million on the app itself,” Suwannaphan said. Onliner has invested some RM4 million in total for the entire project to date.

Sureswaran said Mlabs expects a 15% return per annum on its investment during the initial two years. There is no time period for the collaboration but he expects to work with Onliner on a long-term basis, up to 10 or 20 years.

Established in 2012, Onliner provides total business solutions in offline and online information technology throughout Thailand and regionally. So far, it has installed similar services at Luang Prabang International Airport and the Wattay International Airport in Vientiane.

Mlabs’ share price rose 3.03% to close at 17 sen yesterday with 37.63 million shares changing hands. It was the third most actively traded stock yesterday.

Last month, it was issued an unusual market (UMA) query by Bursa Malaysia when its share price more than tripled from 12 sen on July 3 to 37 sen on July 13, before hitting a record of 46.5 sen on July 14.

In response to the UMA query, Mlabs said the sharp rise in share price and trading volume could be due to its collaboration with Singapore’s e-horizon Asia Pte Ltd.