Digitalisation Here To Stay

Singapore, Jan 12: How have Malaysians warmed up to digitalisations since the start of the pandemic? In this second part of the series, DailyStraits.com spoke to Malaysia’s Country Head for Instarem Rajendar Dhorkay on how as COVID-19 had accelerated country’s digital push in payments. Without further ado, let’s read the interview below:

How susceptible are Malaysians to digital forms of transactions today?

Cashless transactions continue to gain traction in Malaysia. According to a consumer survey by Visa, 96 per cent of consumers in Malaysia embrace a multitude of cashless payment methods — cards, contactless card and mobile payments, e-wallets and QR payments. The transition towards digital (and cashless) transactions has been accelerated by the pandemic within the past year. Malaysia continues to be one of the few Southeast Asian countries taking the lead in this trend. 

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Will the surge in digital or mobile banking likely remain post-pandemic?

The surge in the use of digital banking and payments will continue to accelerate. Data by Instarem shows that money transfers have doubled year-on-year globally over the last two years – and the same is true for Malaysia. This trend will further drive the growth of alternative banks, and we can expect these players to expand offerings beyond the payments space through the creation of their own ecosystem or the integration of lifestyle solutions. In Asia Pacific alone, we have Grab’s superapp or Alipay’s online payment and lifestyle platform. On a global level, social media platform Facebook has recently launched its digital wallet Novi, a blockchain-based platform designed as part of the company’s ‘metaverse’.

Trends in digital payments – how has customer demands, preference and behaviour changed towards such methods in the past year?

The consumer and business shift to digital is permanent. According to the e-Conomy SEA 2021 report by Google, Temasek, and Bain & Company, amongst the region’s internet users, eight out of 10 are digital consumers, and consumer e-wallet usage in particular, has surged 45 per cent compared to pre-COVID. Interestingly, we are finding that needs, preferences, and behaviours will likely stay the same in 2022 and beyond, even if the financial landscape has greatly evolved. Consumers and businesses still want quick and easy access to their money, and they also want some form of a relationship with their bank through trust and personalisation.

In 2020, more than half (54 per cent) of all transactions out of Malaysia go to accounts in India, and a majority of transactions are made in Indian Rupee and Singapore Dollars. Why?

Due to the pandemic, it has certainly accelerated the volume of transactions in Malaysia and across Asia as a whole. For many, remittance services have been a lifeline – a way for workers abroad to support their families in their home countries by sending home their earnings.

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Who are your customers?

Our remittance product targets two key audiences – SMEs (businesses up to 50 employees) and Consumers. SMEs that use Instarem comprise digital marketing consulting agencies as well as retail wholesalers, resellers and suppliers. They use Instarem primarily to pay overseas expenses e.g. salaries, rent etc., increase their working capital and receive payments from overseas clients. Consumers who use Instarem are mostly white-collar immigrants and working-class professionals. They use Instarem to send allowances to their families who live overseas, pay for their children’s overseas education to pay personal bills and make transfers for overseas investments. 

Why would someone want to use your services to transfer your money as opposed to a financial institution?

At Instarem, we transfer money at low cost, with rates sourced from Reuters. Unlike banks and other operators, we only charge a nominal fee to cover the cost of the transaction and do not have any hidden charges.

How much money is transferred using the services each day?

Data by Instarem shows that money transfers made via our app have doubled year-on-year globally over the last two years – and the same is true for Malaysia. 

What is the growth in terms of download or usage of the service the company is planning to achieve this year?

We do not share company targets externally.

How much do users have to pay to use the service in order to be able to send money from one end to another?

Our fees differ from countries and corridors of transfers with typical fees varying from 0.25 per cent to one per cent. The fees are subject to change and can be reviewed at any given time on the Instarem currency converter.

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