Covid-19 – How Cashless Payments Can Potentially Help Curb the Spread

With the world trying to curb the spread of Covid-19, there is naturally concern about the lifespan of the virus after it has landed on various surfaces. According to a study published in the New English Journal of Medicine, people may acquire the coronavirus after touching contaminated objects, where the virus is detectable up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel.

What about paper, you might ask? Money is made from paper, and we handle it every day. WebMD states that the length of time varies – some strains of coronavirus live for only a few minutes on paper, while others live for up to 5 days.

If that makes you slightly worried, you can opt for cashless payments for your peace of mind. With the Restriction of Movement Order extended until 14 April 2020, most of us are not going anywhere, unless we work in essential services. So, in order to pay our bills and order groceries and daily essentials online, we have to use online payment options anyway. 

So, what cashless payment options are currently available? Here are the common ones:

Online Transactions

All banks in Malaysia offer online transactions these days. In fact, they encourage customers to use online transactions instead of queueing at the bank counters. 

Customers can do many things online, such as check their bank account balance, as well as pay their loans, credit cards and various bills. They can also transfer money to other accounts in other banks and even overseas. 

DuitNow

DuitNow makes it easy to transfer money or make instant payments to individuals. All you need is their NRIC number or phone number. You just have to perform a one-time registration for DuitNow by linking your mobile number or NRIC number with your bank accounts or e-money accounts. Then, you are good to go.

e-Wallets

e-Wallets are gaining popularity now, with the top players such as Touch ‘n Go e-wallet, Grab and Boost having millions of users. As this form of cashless payment is still relatively new, users can still enjoy many freebies and cashback incentives when they download and use an e-wallet. 

As part of the Malaysian government’s initiatives to promote e-payments, Malaysians aged 18 years and above and earning not more than RM100,000 per annum were entitled to a one-off payment of RM30 into their e-wallets, to be claimed  from 1 January to 29 February 2020.

QR Code Payment 

QR code payment is performed by scanning a QR code from a mobile app. It enables merchants to receive payments from customers when they scanning the merchants’ QR codes using their smartphone cameras.

 Payment by Wave

The Wave payment option is becoming more widely available at many point-of-sales or cashiers now. You can make your payments by letting the machine scan your debit or credit card. 

Payment by debit or credit card

This option has been around for a while. You can make payments at most supermarkets, hypermarkets and shopping centres with this option, but the cashier will likely hold your card to put it into the slot and then take it out to give it back to you. 

Future Outlook

Recognising the importance of e-payments, Bank Negara (the Central Bank) has released its Financial Sector Blueprint 2011-2020, which charts the future direction of the financial system over the next ten years. One of the nine focus areas under the Blueprint is “electronic payments for greater economic efficiency”. This is in line with the goal of transitioning Malaysia to a high value-added, high-income economy with adequate safeguards to preserve financial stability. Therefore, Bank Negara will strive to accelerate the migration to electronic payments. 

The use of cashless payments is not only beneficial for the big departmental store, hypermarkets and supermarkets. Small merchants stand to benefit from adopting e-wallets as a payment option for customers. Even hawker stalls and pasar malam stalls, especially from the younger community, have started to adopt e-wallets. The benefits include not needing to calculate and provide change, and removing the risks of receiving counterfeit money and theft. 

Moreover, customers receive cashback from using their e-wallets, so the more they use their e-wallets, the more cashback they will receive. That is a major attraction of using e-wallets, and merchants can get repeat customers because of that.

According to the Ministry of Finance, to date only 5% of total daily payments are cashless, as cash transaction is still a preferred payment method in Malaysia for purchases such as groceries, magazines and newspapers.

With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, business will be forever changed, because almost everybody has to work from home except for essential services, so there is a massive shift towards buying and ordering food and products online. As such, small traders who have not previously developed an online presence are now forced to make the transition. For example, even Cameron Highlands vegetables are available for sale on Lazada from 30 March 2020 onwards. Once people have gotten used to this convenience, they will likely continue using online e-commerce sites to purchase their groceries and daily necessities. 

So, be safe, #StayAtHome, and in meantime, opt for cashless payment, start encouraging your local stores to switch to cashless and lets this opportunity to make Malaysia a cashless society.

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