“Sugar, spice and everything nice” – What nostalgic moment it was, seeing childhood superheroes take to the skies in the form of corporate colours. But instead of taking down villains, they were against each other, competing to capture the hearts of Malaysians.
Budget Day, probably second to the most anticipated day for many (first being the General Election). A day where the government forecasts its expenditure and revenue for the upcoming year, while we plan what to do with the aid and incentives we will be getting.
During former finance minister Lim Guan Eng’s 2020 Budget presentation, he announced that each citizen would be entitled to a one-off RM30 incentive under the e-Tunai Rakyat initiative. An incentive that would be distributed differently – using eWallets.
The one-off RM30 incentive was a step in embracing the digital frontier by encouraging the public, small businesses and retail stores to accept digital payments.
And just like that, a few days after the announcement, three of the country’s biggest e-wallet players, Touch 'n Go eWallet, Boost and GrabPay stormed social media.
Each of them came up with creative ways to win the hearts of potential customers by providing lucrative deals with their merchants such as heavily discounted purchases and even going as far as offering bonuses worth RM8,888!
The race to capture the most users on their platform was certainly an interesting one. Unique in their own ways, the three were very distinguishable with the services and features they provided.
With the Touch ‘n Go smart card having already made its name among city drivers in need of a smarter way around, its eWallet arm leveraged on its name to grow its own set of users.
Boost gained traction by an ingenious feature that instantly provided the user with a rebate after each successful transaction with a gimmicky shake.
GrabPay became a force to be reckoned with after Grab introduced its own eWallet as another form of payment method aside from cash and credit card when booking ride sharing services or ordering from its food delivery platform.
While the one-off RM30 was a good initiative to get the public into the cashless ecosystem, it was short-lived as only the established brands took part in signing on as merchants to the eWallet platforms.
It eventually required a pandemic to bring about the need of going cashless even more paramount.
The heightened awareness of cleanliness is not justifying the increased number of infections globally. Some are even seen to take cleanliness to borderline paranoia by covering themselves with two facemasks and gloves.
But not everyone would take such extreme measures as most would rather opt for comfort and style rather than protection.
Hence personal hygiene had to be looked from a different angle, one that is often overlooked – banknotes!
Studies have shown that banknotes carry bacteria, protozoa and viruses. Not only do banknotes contain these unwanted guests, it facilitates the spread of microbes through unsuspecting touches after handling them. The microbial found on banknotes were traced to have originated from human skin and mouth!
In an effort to curb the spread of the virus through banknotes, China, a country which is no stranger to the cashless ecosystem, had to resort to extraordinary measures. The Chinese government began disinfecting their banknotes through ultraviolet rays and heat before locking it up for at least 14 days. Only then were they released for circulation again.
Little did we Malaysians know, the way we once did our payments was about to change.
Not only were franchises and high-volume stores adopting cashless payments, even the aunty selling economy rice down the block was also hopping onto the bandwagon.
More often than not, the trios were positioned standing tall and proud together at the counter. But you do occasionally see emerging cashless platforms popping in to get a piece of the action.
Cashless payment has definitely made the world a much convenient and safer place. And if you’re a Malaysian, you’d be an idiot for not wanting to seize those incentives given by the government. After all, if there is one expression that we Malaysians associate ourselves very well, it would be “Cash is king”.
While cashless payment may be the payment mode of the future, banknotes are still very much ingrained in our lives and will continue to play their role until they are rendered obsolete.
But until banknotes are made totally redundant, rigorous hand washing with soap or hand sanitiser after dealing with any banknote or coin should be the norm.