Meet Startup @TW

iCHEF, KGI Bank team up to support small restaurants in light of COVID-19


As restaurant owners struggle to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, a restaurant point-of-sale (POS) service provider has rolled out several plans to offer support.

This week, Taiwan-based restaurant tech startup iCHEF announced collaboration with KGI Bank, one of the many banks who apply for the relief loans offered by the Ministry of Economic Affairs on behalf of businesses who see a 15% decline in revenue for two consecutive months.

In Taiwan, over the four-day holiday in early April, revenue for restaurants in five major municipalities has declined by 23%, according to foodnext.

For iCHEF, the collaboration entails giving the bank access to the data on its platform. Then, KGI Bank is able to examine the financial health of the restaurants using iCHEF's POS device and help them apply for the government lending program without requesting them to submit documents that prove a negative growth in revenue.

The streamlined process should benefit those who suffer less severe decline in revenue and thus aren’t qualified as a beneficiary of the coronavirus relief.

Restaurants with NT$5M annual revenue can now submit loan application to KGI Bank directly through iCHEF’s system and, if approved, receive a three-year installment loan worth up to NT$1M to stay afloat. Also, personal loans will soon be available to restaurant owners making $200k revenue every month; they can expect to receive up to NT$450k at a preferable interest rate within three days.

KGI Bank estimates that these two plans should help 5,000 and 6,000 restaurants, respectively, Economy Daily News said.

“We know it’s been a tough time for small restaurant owners,” said iCHEF co-founder Ken Chen. “Therefore, we not only hope to make technology accessible to them but provide loan programs that will help them survive.”

iCHEF develops a POS system to help restaurant owners increase their revenue through data analytics. Founded in 2012, it has provided the service more than 6,000 restaurants around Asia, in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Singapore.

The Taiwanese company usually provides an iPad for restaurant owners and charges a fixed fee (US$100/month) for access to its data analytics platform. However, in response to the crisis faced by restaurant owners, iCHEF has rolled out a new pricing model where users are charged based on how heavily they use its service every month.

Meanwhile, the company has waived the monthly subscription fee for around 60,000 small restaurants in Taiwan and Hong Kong. This measure applies to new clients, too.

iCHEF integrates Uber Eats with its POS system.

As more and more customers shift to ordering their food online, iCHEF has also integrated its POS system with Uber Eats, allowing restaurants to take and process dine-in, takeout, and delivery orders with the same device and thus improving efficiency in food preparation.

It’s one of the company’s “pre-emptive measures” to help restaurants weather the coronavirus crisis, Mr. Chen said.