CURRENTLY, DuitNow QR does not impose transaction charges for transfers below RM5,000. A fixed fee of RM0.50 is applied to transactions exceeding RM5,000.
Soon (as of Nov 1, 2023), it is reported that traders receiving money via the DuitNow QR application will incur transaction charges.
If the payment is made from a current or savings account, a fee of 0.25% will be applied to the trader's account. A fee of 0.50% will be imposed for credit card transfers.
The DuitNow QR service enables money transfers between banks and non-bank entities by scanning QR codes.
It was established by PayNet under Bank Negara Malaysia's Interoperable Credit Transfer Framework.
The Small and Medium Enterprises Association (Samenta) has urged PayNet to immediately clarify whether the report that DuitNow will take a cut from merchants on all transactions is accurate.
On Wednesday (Sept 27), Payments Network Malaysia Sdn Bhd (PayNet), the operator of DuitNow QR, clarified that the first type refers to e-payments made by customers to merchants, which typically incur a merchant discount rate (MDR) based on a percentage of the transaction value.
"Currently, MDRs are applicable to debit and credit card payments, while QR payments have been exempted. However, starting from Nov 1, 2023, the MDR waiver for DuitNow QR payments will be lifted," it said.
Regarding the first payment type, PayNet said the collected MDR will be shared between PayNet, the relevant banks and third-party acquirers. It added that this covers network maintenance costs and expenses incurred by banks and acquirers.
PayNet also said the RM0.50 fee mentioned in the reports applies to peer-to-peer fund transfers between personal QR codes, and not payments to merchants.
"This fee is unrelated to the aforementioned MDR and will not be imposed on the same transaction," it said.
Several banks, including CIMB and Public Bank, have announced a waiver of the MDR until further notice.
Samenta said it had been working hard to encourage SMEs to digitise, but charging merchants such transaction fees would be detrimental to its efforts.
The association echoes the concerns of MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, the Ayer Hitam MP wrote: "This will discourage the growth of cashless payments and more likely, vastly disadvantage the smallest and most vulnerable of Malaysian traders and retailers."
The Malaysia Consumers Movement (MCM) also said that the transaction fee, if implemented, was a regressive move as the government was encouraging digitalisation.
It urged banks to support the government's efforts in digitalisation since they were making millions in non-interest revenue and should absorb these fees.
"BNM must intervene to ensure that banks do not impose such charges without necessary regulatory approval," it said.
In a challenging economic environment where the profit margin is shrinking, the reported 0.25% and 0.50% fees will be a burden, especially to those in the SMEs.
Dr Wee posted that the new DuitNow rate reportedly taking effect from Nov 1 was wholly unfair to small businesses or roadside "warung" without card payment facilities.
"Considering that DuitNow QR recipients (Boost, GrabPay, Setel, and Touch 'n Go) are small businesses or roadside 'warung' without card payment machines, this new DuitNow rate is tantamount to discrimination against them and wholly unfair for these small entrepreneurs," the MCA president wrote.
"At a time of rising costs of living made worse by the effects of inflation, we should not be making seemingly trivial decisions that come with ripple effects to burden the rakyat and cause more inconvenience," he said.
As Malaysia - including pasar malam traders and pisang groeng sellers - turns into a cashless society, it is hoped that merchants will not be charged for using DuitNow.
If they are, the merchants might pass the cost to consumers who are already burdened by the rising cost of living.