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Traditional markets in Taipei urged to go digital post-COVID

Digital transactions touted as cutting transmission risk while boosting sales for vendors

Mayor Ko prepares goods at a traditional market in Taipei.

Mayor Ko prepares goods at a traditional market in Taipei. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taipei is prodding its traditional markets to facilitate digital transformation in partnership with delivery platforms to reduce person-to-person contact in the post-pandemic era.

The measure comes amid growing demand on e-commerce platforms for fresh produce, spurred by the COVID-19. The Level 3 curbs in place since May have involved restrictions on how often people in the capital can visit wet markets and supermarkets, and cluster infections have been reported at these businesses.

Drawing on lessons learned from a trip to Northern Europe, Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) believes digital services help with crowd control while reducing the risk of virus transmission. Encouraging businesses to adapt to this way of shopping works better than providing cash bailouts, Storm Media quoted him as saying.

Ko acknowledged there are challenges that come with implementing digital transactions, such as slower service and the quality of products being affected. However, he is confident obstacles will be overcome eventually after a new shopping culture emerges.

The city government has set aside NT$42 million (US$1.49 million) in subsidies as an incentive for market vendors. Delivery services Foodpanda, UberEats, Shopee, Foodomo, Line Taxi, and others have joined the initiative, according to the Market Administration Office.