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Malaysian service provider and card firms partner to offer new digital payment option

According to a recent report, a mobile service provider in Malaysia along with a leading global card company serving as the technology partner will offer a digital prepaid card which is set to be released for public use sometime in the first half of the year.

The card is also developed with a provider of end-to-end electronic payment (e-Payment) solutions for banks and financial institutions, merchants and other businesses in Malaysia.

According to a press release, the digital card was designed for online shopping where customers can sign-up, activate and use the card all within a single mobile app. The goal is to provide an intuitive, end-to-end digital experience that is more secure.

While the announcement lacks an in-depth explanation of the move, it is likely that the concerned parties will model the digital app after the card company’s Happy prepaid card.

Online shoppers or those that sign up for online subscription services could provide their Happy card details instead of giving these websites access to their primary credit card information.

The idea is that users would protect their actual card information, and the prepaid nature of the platform would ensure that users do not end up spending more money than they have.

The card company’s country manager for Malaysia stated that it is essential to meet the needs of the unbanked populations in Malaysia, implying that the digital card could help solve that issue for the unbanked segment. His assertion hints to the possibility of cash top-ups, and the logical conclusion is that this will double in the mobile service provider’s physical kiosks – however, currently, these statements are only assumptions based on other fintech around.

Debit card ownership in Malaysia has a relatively high 74% penetration, though only 21% of Malaysia’s population owns a credit card. The lower numbers could owe to strict credit card issuing standards, but it is also likely that Malaysians are reticent about getting a credit card in fear of spending more than they actually have.

Allowing Malaysians to tap into the global the card company’s network while also eschewing the cumbersome physical card when online shopping could be the more convenient solution that caters to an increasingly online lifestyle, though it will remain to be seen if this will be enough for the product to gain traction.

However, we are curious as to why Digi did not launch this service as an extension of their existing wallet, vcash. Air Asia’s BigPay was launched with the card company too, and it is also an e-wallet.

The telecom company’s CEO stated that the company has observed that the majority of e-commerce transactions still occur with cash. The aims are to play a part in assisting people to go cashless, and more importantly, offer them the convenience to do what they want on their devices.

The Group’s Dato’ further elaborates on the retailer side of this equation, noting that the focus will be to acquire retailers and e-tailers to provide them with the ability to accept digital card payments and unlock the benefits of going cashless. This includes having access to a suite of merchant tools for improved customer retention, which will translate into a more engaging and efficient in-app cashless experience for cardholders.

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