PETALING JAYA: CIMB Group Holdings Bhd ’s subsidiary Touch ‘n Go is set to launch an “e-wallet” using technology pioneered by Alipay, sources said.
The service is positioned to shake up the payments business here, according to people familiar with the e-payment services segment.
This is because of the widespread usage of Touch ‘n Go cards – there are about 17 million such cards issued – and the robustness of the Alipay back-end technology that would be deployed, sources added.
Alipay is the mobile payment service of Ant Financial, which in turn is the financial affiliate of the Alibaba group.
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and its founder Jack Ma were in Malaysia earlier this year to announce plans to set up a regional distribution hub here. Since then, a number of Malaysian companies have announced alliances with Alipay including CIMB Bank.
However, the deal involving Touch ‘n Go holds the potential to scale up quickly considering the large number of existing users of Touch ‘n Go.
“The tie-up will also create new business opportunities for companies to create applications that utilise this new e-wallet,” explains an industry player, who cites the examples of the rise of mobile games in China using e-wallets such as Alipay or Wechat pay.
CIMB owns 52% of Touch ‘n Go while MTD Capital Bhd and PLUS Expressways Bhd own 28% and 20% respectively.
E-wallets are typically made up of an application that resides on one’s mobile device, which then can be swiped over a QR code at a merchant’s location for payment of goods or services. Users will be able to top up the credit on their e-wallets via online banking facilities in Malaysia.
Alipay says it is accepted at more than 80,000 merchants in 70 countries. But that is largely to cater to Chinese users travelling abroad.
The Touch ‘n Go e-wallet will enable payments to be made electronically at even very small merchants such as night market vendors and tea stall operators.
A similar model has taken off in a big way in India, where Prime Minister Naredra Modi had called for the nation to become a cashless society. The popular e-wallet there is called PayTM, which is backed by Alibaba and Softbank and whose system is being used more and more by merchants such as shopkeepers, street vendors, petrol stations and even chai wallahs.
Recently, Bernama quoted Touch ‘n Go Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Syahrunizam Samsudin as saying that the company would introduce a new digital platform which will be used as a sales and purchase medium nationwide in line with the move to enhance cashless transactions.
He said the platform, named Touch ’n Go e-Wallet, was undergoing several evaluation processes before it could be introduced to the public.
Bernama quoted him as saying: “Our vision is to introduce this cashless payment system deeper at the community level, not just at the city centre or shopping malls, but also at retail outlets close to the community. We will be launching this platform and we will see the reaction from the users by then”.
The report added that the pilot project for the platform was launched in Taman Tun Dr Ismail a few months ago in collaboration with the residents association, along with retailers, restaurant operators and market traders, and the response had been positive in terms of the system’s stability and user-friendly function.