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[Malaysia] Malaysian eWallets Review as January 2021 – Which eWallet should you use to pay?
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Malaysia has seen a huge number of eWallets enter the market in the last few years. Walking past a row of shops, it is not unusual to encounter a bunch of banners/stickers promoting eWallets. The bigger ones need no additional promotion, but you sometimes also see the likes of Sarawak Pay, LOLOL and MPay. They’re just examples of some of the less common eWallets. I’m sure you’ve seen a scene similar to the photo above at the payment counter of a restaurant/shop?
The big 3 are probably Boost eWallet, Touch n Go eWallet and GrabPay. You might consider including FavePay in the equation, but they’re more like a pseudo-eWallet (but still a very important player). By the way, BigPay? They’re even less of an eWallet than FavePay, but they actually still play a role in this space. They deserve their own post though, so they won’t be discussed at length here.
Malaysia is actually blessed, or cursed, to have so many options. It’s a ridiculously saturated and competitive market. That means one thing for us consumers – probably more promotions as they try to fight/compete with each other for market share. It also means the ones that are unable to figure out how to make profit will probably disappear – I can’t see how you can have so many players in one space.
The purpose of this post is to recommend which eWallet you should use if presented with multiple options.
Pick the one with the highest “reward” (Spoiler: It’s probably FavePay)
Whenever I’m faced with this decision, my brain computes it like this:
- Is there any promotion at the merchant at which I am making payment? If yes, which eWallet(s)?
- If more than one, which one offers the best promotion?
- If none have any promotion, which one the highest rewards?
Writing about the first two points is too specific – so you really need to do your own research/calculations. However, if there is a specific promotion by one of the eWallets, it is unlikely that you’ll find a better option by using anything other than the eWallet with the promotional discount.
So which eWallets should I use and in which order?
As at January 2021:
- Touch n Go eWallet
- FavePay accepts both GrabPay and Boost as a funding method, so there is no reason to use either of them over FavePay
- Using GrabPay/Boost via FavePay still awards you GrabRewards Points/Boost coins
- FavePay merchants typically pay a percentage cashback, often ranging from 2-20% which is useable on your next visit to the same merchant
- Cashback is valid until the end of the third month from the time you pay
- Example: On 1 January 2020, you pay RM20 to A&W, who pay 10% cashback. You will have RM2 as A&W cashback in your Fave wallet available to you until 30 April 2020.
- Can be utilised at a different location – e.g. you can use FavePay at Sunway Pyramid A&W, and then use the cashback you earned from that visit at a different A&W
- Even if a merchant pays 0% Fave cashback, you’re still earning GrabRewards points and/or Boost coins, so you’re never in a worse off position
- Cashback is valid until the end of the third month from the time you pay
- FavePay accepts American Express, which is relevant because American Express cards often award more points than their Visa/Mastercard counterparts
- Some banks have begun excluding eWallet top ups from earning points, but FavePay transactions are such that they are not considered top ups – it’s just expenditure. This is a double dipping opportunity, for cards issued by banks such as Maybank
- FavePay awards AirAsia BIG points on transactions at a rate of RM5 = 1 AirAsia BIG point, but this is worth so little that it’s not really necessary to consider this a benefit – hence why this is last on this list 🙂
- It takes 150 AirAsia BIG Points to redeem for RM1 for Fave transactions, equating to “cashback” of 0.13%
GrabPay is second because they still offer a consistent, stable amount of GrabRewards points which varies based on your GrabRewards tier.
At the time of writing, 800 GrabRewards Points is worth RM5 based on the availble rewards. Based on this valuation, the rebate you derive from paying via GrabPay is either 0.94% (1.5pts/RM on Member/Silver), 1.41% (2.25pts/RM on Gold) or 1.82% (3pts/RM Platinum).
Boost? They’re inconsistent. Their rewards fluctuate wildly, but from monitoring Boost Rewards versus GrabPay over the last 8 months, GrabPay is better than Boost 95% of the time.
Remember, this all assumes there are no alternative promotions. If you’re at AA Pharmacy and they’re offering a RM5 voucher for HSBC Cardholders, then pay with HSBC! If you’re at Mr DIY and they offer RM8 cashback on transactions made with GrabPay, use GrabPay! If McDonald’s is offering RM5 cashback on RM25+ TnG eWallet transactions, use Touch n Go eWallet! You get the drill.
What about the rest?
Touch n Go eWallet, despite being such a household name in Malaysia, pay nothing in the way of rewards. While you’ll earn 300 GrabRewards points (RM1.88) on a RM100 transaction as a Platinum member, you’ll earn exactly zero when you make the same transaction using Touch n Go eWallet.
That means the only reason I’d use them is if there is no other choice, or if they have a promotion – which they do have sometimes.
All the others are the same. None of the others pay any rewards whatsoever, so why should I, as a savvy consumer, use them?
Typically speaking, they usually try to offer something to entice customers to use them. Maybank QR Pay were paying a small amount of random cashback on transactions of RM10+, up to 4x per calendar month in Nov-Dec 2020.
GoPayz were paying RM5 back on RM30+ transactions capped at once per day at specific merchants throughout December 2020, including Econsave, Tesco, McDonald’s, Family Mart, KFC and Petron. As a unique selling point, GoPayz offer a UnionPay virtual card (which is extremely unique – but merchants in Malaysia that accept them are almost as rare), alongside a Visa/MasterCard, which gives you an extra avenue to spend your GoPayz money.
Razer Pay were, and still are offering 10% cashback on mobile phone top ups. They were also giving out one free mask per calendar month (haha) via 7-Elevens in Malaysia for verified customers.
ShopeePay were offering somewhere between RM2-4 cashback on transactions of RM10-15+ at several merchants (Go Noodle House 有间面馆, Banana Bro)
And that’s where we circle back to the very first question – “is there a promotion for using you, GoPayz/Razer Pay/Maybank QR Pay/TnG eWallet? If yes, then I’ll probably use you. If no, then no thanks.”
What About Credit Cards?
It’s certainly something you should still consider, and it goes through the same thought process. That is, “how much are the rewards you will get for paying with this Credit Card?”
However, for the sake of simplicity, I’ve omitted them from this article because there is too large a variety of Credit Cards and writing about it further complicates the thought process.
If you have the capacity to consider it, then it’s best to do so, but this is just an overview of how to choose between the different eWallets.
What about leftover Credit within the eWallet?
It’s certainly something to consider, both from the sake of wastage and safety of funds. None of the dominant eWallets offer you the option to transfer money out to a bank account (anymore – Boost used to, for a fee). My recommendation is if you are committed to continuing paying with eWallets, the issue of leftover Credit is a non-issue because you’ll pretty much always find opportunities to use them, given how mainstream they are now.
Having said that, there’s no benefit in over topping up. You don’t earn interest on your wallet balance, so just top up what you need! This is where features like auto top up could come in handy to save you from scrambling to ensure you have a sufficient wallet balance at the checkout.
FavePay are a clear fave-ourite, but they’re not as widely accepted as the other dominant three. I suspect this is due to commission, as the substantial percentage cashback has to be funded from somewhere. However, where they’re accepted, they’re a real no brainer of an option.
Given the transition away from cash to cashless, I suspect 2021 will see further growth in the use of eWallets. It will be interesting to see how the smaller players navigate this battlefield, and I personally can’t wait to see how the year for eWallets in Malaysia will pan out!
- Boost: seefya8 (no reward at the moment)
- Shopee: illum222 – 20% cashback (not sure if there is a cap)
- BigPay: ZN8IKOD38O – RM10 after you activate your card
- Fave: FAVEWAYNE284 – RM1 off your first purchase of RM20+
- MAE Invite Code: sj’0127 (nothing, I think)
GoPayz, Razer Pay, Touch n Go eWallet, Maybank QR Pay do not have any referral program.