Malaysia picks GrabPay, two others for $109m digital payments initiative

A passenger sits next to Grab corner sign as he waits for a Grab bike. REUTERS/Beawiharta

Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd announced Friday that the federal government has selected three e-wallet service providers for the implementation of the 450-million ringgit ($109 million) e-Tunai Rakyat Initiative.

The three e-wallet service providers – GrabPay, Boost, and Touch ‘n Go eWallet – are among Malaysia’s largest and collectively provide a ready platform for the programme that will be launched on January 15, 2020.

Khazanah, which was appointed by the Ministry of Finance to facilitate and coordinate the implementation and launch of the initiative, said Malaysians 18 years of age and above who earn less than 100,000 ringgit ($24,100) annually will be eligible to receive 30 ringgit ($7.24) credit each through any of the three e-wallets.

The 30 ringgit can be used to purchase goods and services that are available through the three platforms and can be used for two months until March 14, 2020.

Khazanah said the e-Tunai Rakyat initiative aims to accelerate the greater use and adoption of e-wallets and digital payments among Malaysian consumers and merchants, especially small enterprises and retail businesses.

The participating e-wallet service providers will provide more details on how eligible Malaysians can claim and use the 30-ringgit e-credit, Khazanah stressed.

According to a Nielsen report, while mobile penetration and the awareness of mobile payments is at 88 per cent, only 8 per cent of Malaysians use e-wallets.

The three e-wallet providers were picked based on four criteria: large number of active users, large merchant networks, technical expertise, and have invested significantly in Malaysia.

In response to the announcement, Grab said it welcomes and fully supports the government’s progressive move to accelerate the adoption of e-wallets and digital payments among Malaysians.

“We believe this is a testament to our commitment to provide access to the seamless and frictionless convenience of digital payments to everyone in the Malaysian community,” Grab said in a statement.

The inclusion of GrabPay in the e-Tunai Rakyat initiative comes about two months after the Malaysia Competition Commission (MyCC) proposed a fine of over 86 million ringgit ($20.5 million) on Grab for violating the competition law by imposing restrictive clauses on its drivers.

Malaysia is the third country in the region to penalise Grab after its acquisition of Uber’s Southeast Asia operations in March 2018, joining Singapore and the Philippines.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

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  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.