The Week That Was: E-wallets on the up and up


The Sarawak Pay app will be rebranded to S-Pay and made international starting next month. — ZULAZHAR SHEBLEE/The Star

Last week was a particularly interesting time in the world of cashless payment, as key e-wallet players revealed new features, a pioneer bid adieu, and another popped up out of nowhere.

Marking a stronger footing in the local e-wallet scene, Grab announced its collaboration with Payments Network Malaysia (PayNet), making its GrabPay the first e-wallet in the country to adopt DuitNow QR, Malaysia’s National QR Standard.

DuitNow QR, an extension of the DuitNow service that was introduced in December last year, is part of Bank Negara’s Interoperable Credit Transfer Framework, and PayNet has been authorised to implement a common QR standard for Malaysia.

This will allow GrabPay customers to transfer money instantly on a 24/7 basis, and is expected to be implemented in the Grab app by the first half of next year.

Grab’s e-wallet is the first in Malaysia to adopt the DuitNow QR tech. — APGrab’s e-wallet is the first in Malaysia to adopt the DuitNow QR tech. — AP

Also expanding its service is the Sarawak Pay e-wallet which, thanks to its collaboration with UnionPay, will soon be available for use in various countries, including Singapore and China.

Introduced in 2017, the Sarawak Pay app was launched to support e-commerce, financial technology and digital government initiatives in the state.

As of last month, Sarawak Pay has over 125,000 users and has handled transactions valued over RM35mil in total.

As part of its new endeavour, the Sarawak Pay e-wallet will also go through a transformation.The Star reported the state’s chief minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg as saying that the service would be rebranded as S-Pay for international use.

What does the S stand for? According to him, it could be construed as either Sarawak Pay or Smart Pay by users. The service is currently only available in Sarawak, but you’ll be able to use it anywhere UnionPay is accepted soon.

“We want our mobile payment to be global in nature and not confined to Sarawak only. That’s the reason for the name change,” he was quoted as saying.

Also collaborating with UnionPay is Axiata Digital’s Boost, which partnered with the Chinese company to allow its customers to use its e-wallet services at 11 million merchants across 31 countries.

But that is not the only news from Boost.

Boost introduces several new features to its e-wallet system. — BoostBoost introduces several new features to its e-wallet system. — Boost

The homegrown e-wallet also introduced two new features. First is the BoostUp rewards programme that allows users to earn “coins” which can be used to redeem prizes, including premium gadgets, entertainment and gaming content, cashback and vouchers.

The more the users spend using Boost, the more coins they can potentially earn.

On top of that, there is also the new CashUp feature that lets users get back money from selected online retail partners.

Also making a foray into the e-wallet market is U Mobile which launched GoPayz, a cashless payment service. It’s not limited to its subscribers as the mobile operator announced that it will also be available to non-subscribers.

Already available for download on Google Play and Apple App Store, the GoPayz e-wallet aims to offer digital financial and lifestyle services to its users.However, it wasn’t all just good news from our e-wallet players last week.

Digi, one of the first companies to introduce e-wallets in Malaysia, announced to its users via SMS that it will shutter its barely two-year-old Vcash service.Vcash, introduced in 2017 – seven months prior to GrabPay – allowed users to log into the system using facial or fingerprint recognition, and pay by scanning the merchants’ QR codes.

The service, though still available for download, will not allow new user registration. It will reportedly say goodbye to its current users on Nov 30.

Alipay is now finally available to short-term visitors to China. — ZHAFARAN NASIB/The StarAlipay is now finally available to short-term visitors to China. — ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

On the international front, the ubiquitous Alipay e-wallet service is now available for short-term visitors to China. Previously, visitors to the country were unable to use the app without being tied to a Chinese bank account. However, Ant Financial Services Group – an associate of Alibaba Group Holding and the operator of Alipay – has created an international version of the app to benefit visitors.

China reportedly received 30.5 million foreign visitors in 2018. Starting immediately, visitors to China can download Alipay for both iOS and Android devices.They will be required to register for the international version of the app using their overseas mobile phone numbers. They can also use their international debit or credit cards to top up funds onto a prepaid card by Bank of Shanghai, with a minimum top-up amount of 100 yuan (RM60) per card and the balance capped at 2,000 yuan (RM1,180).

The service is valid for up to 90 days, after which the balance will be refunded.

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