Iconography of the royal family in Bangkok. Public displays of patriotism are all over the city.

Research context and challenges

Thailand’s complex banking system means payments can be slow and attract fees. Vocalink provides the technology for ‘PromptPay’, a real-time payment service for transfers between government, people, businesses and banks. Payments are free and immediate, and when the research was commissioned there were around 30 million Thai users.

Vocalink knew that the uptake of PromptPay had been successful so far. However, user adoption had slowed. Recognising that their data only provided part of the story, Vocalink sought a research partner to run focus groups to capture the wider context, usage and behaviours.

After initial discussions with Vocalink, we realised this project needed a market-specific tailored approach. To help design this, we engaged two Thai anthropologists to provide extensive insight into life in Thailand and the current payments landscape. We also talked to Thai recruitment agencies and conducted desk research, uncovering several challenges:

  1. Hard-to-reach population: Thailand has a large rural population, who are difficult to contact by phone or online. This means research panels or focus groups can be urban-focused and unrepresentative. To clearly understand the impact of PromptPay, we needed both an urban and rural perspective.
  2. A population who might find it hard to trust us: Thailand is under military rule and the popular king had recently died. This raised concerns about participants feeling comfortable to talk freely and openly to strangers. Furthermore, PromptPay is a government initiative, bringing a risk that people might feel anxious about giving honest feedback.
  3. Client accustomed to traditional research: Vocalink had tended to favour more traditional research methodologies, relying on focus groups and qualitative interviews. For research with a rich context and a real business impact, entering participants’ daily lives, helping them feel empowered and establishing trust and good rapport was crucial. Trust is often easier to build in a participant’s own context, surrounded by their own things, family and friends, and over a longer period of time. The challenge was to persuade Vocalink of this approach’s merits over using a central facility.
A tailored and innovative research approach