Mobile payments are becoming more popular in Malaysia, says deputy finance minister

There is top-down support for the country to go cashless.

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Malaysia’s deputy finance minister Amiruddin Hamzah revealed yesterday that the country chalked up more than 25 million mobile payment transactions involving MYR 725.8 million (USD 175.6 million) in the first quarter of 2019, according to local news outlet The Star. 

Amiruddin did not specify whether the reported figures reflect both bank and non-bank mobile payment transactions. Nonetheless, the numbers do show rapid progress in the adoption of mobile payments in Malaysia.

As a comparison, in all of 2018, non-banks processed 31.1 million transactions valued at MYR 1.3 billion, whereas banks recorded 257.1 million transactions totaling MYR 100.1 billion. The figures were significantly lower in 2017, according to the Financial Stability and Payment Systems Report 2018 released in March.

The article also added that the government is actively promoting mobile payments as a safer and more efficient method for consumer cash transfers. “We want it to become a trend among the people. We no longer have to carry a physical wallet full of cash, but use an e-wallet for our future transactions,” Amirrudin said.

Like its neighbors in the region, Malaysia also aspires to become a cashless society. While the reported figures show a significant improvement that can be attributed to the high internet penetration rate—80% as of January 2019—areas like Sabah and Sarawak lag behind the rest of Malaysia in terms of gaining access to a stable Internet connection.