E-wallets are everywhere. You’ve probably seen multiple QR codes displayed colourfully at restaurants, malls, and even pasar malam or hawker stalls. (It’s still a little surreal to pay for roti canai with your phone, but we’re not complaining.) While e-wallets are undeniably popular in Malaysia for their ease of use, with so many choices, it’s hard to tell which one’s the best. If you’re swamped with information and just want a straightforward answer like us, this Top 5 listicle is for you.
What Makes an E-wallet Special?
Most e-wallets operate in the same way— consumers only need to top up their digital wallets to scan and pay using their phones. With the competitive Malaysian market, two factors have become all-important in the e-wallet race. These are:
- Availability, which indicates how widely accepted an e-wallet is across the nation, and
- Additional features, such as bill payments, cashback, or other benefits for using the e-wallet instead of simply cash/card.
With these factors in mind, we’ve narrowed down the top five e-wallets in Malaysia from a whopping list of 48 cashless payment providers approved by Bank Negara. Read on for our top picks from the e-wallet industry and find the one for you!
You might know Fave as the reincarnation of Groupon, the super-popular coupon site for everything under the sun. With its array of vouchers, Groupon first gained fame among Internet deal-hunters looking for the best value for their next meal or haircut. Since its rebranding in 2016, the bright pink Fave mobile application has created a niche for itself in the e-commerce landscape, offering sizable discounts for retail, beauty, and dining, among others.
FavePay is Fave’s mobile payment method, accepted at over 40,000 merchant touchpoints. While it doesn’t do as many things as the other e-wallets on our list, FavePay blends seamlessly into the Fave app experience, enabling payments and voucher purchases to be made in seconds reliably. Customers can also purchase eCards (basically digital gift cards) from specific partners for a lower price than face value using FavePay.
Why We Love It
We’ve put FavePay at the top of our e-wallet ranking for one very, very big reason: it links with both GrabPay and Boost. That means that you’ll be earning double the rewards every time you use FavePay for payments, whether it’s cashback (on the Fave app) or credits (from the linked e-wallet). Who doesn’t want two things for essentially the price of one?
Fave’s partner cashback ranges from 3% to 20%, which means that every time you return to your favourite cafe, you get a discount! Never-ending cashback— now that’s truly a gift that keeps on giving. Cashbacks are valid for 2 to 3 months and are automatically credited/used when you scan your FavePay QR code, so it’s even more hassle-free to save with the app. In our experience, independent middle-class merchants (e.g. steamboat restaurants and non-franchise gyms) tend to have Fave enabled even when they do not offer GrabPay or Boost. Whether it’s because Fave is more business-friendly or simply got a head start is anyone’s guess, but this just means even more locations to pay and stretch your money at with this e-wallet.
Summary: If you spend substantially on lifestyle purchases such as hotel bookings and aesthetic treatments, and use either GrabPay or Boost, Fave’s your best bet to fast-track your reward earnings with every Ringgit.
This e-wallet needs no introduction. While Grab first achieved success with e-hailing, food delivery has also become synonymous with the brand. Grab delivery riders zipping around with their distinctive green carriers have become a familiar and welcome sight to many Malaysians working from home during the pandemic.
Anchoring this success is Grab’s own e-wallet, GrabPay. Integrated into the Grab app as its primary mode of payment, GrabPay allows users to pay for a large variety of goods and services within the Grab ecosystem.
Using GrabPay unlocks Grab’s tiered loyalty program called Grab Rewards. With every payment, users can earn GrabPoints, which are exchangeable for direct discounts on Grab services and other partner vouchers. Merchants who are part of Grab Rewards include Adidas, M.A.C., Uniqlo, and Starbucks.
The graphic below shows how points are awarded based on the four tiers of Member, Silver, Gold, and Platinum.
Currently, 800 GrabPoints are equivalent to RM5.00. Each purchase extends the validity of the entire stock of points by three months, so members will have to use their e-wallet occasionally to maintain their Grab credits.
Why We Love It
This e-wallet takes second place for the robustness and convenience of the Grab Rewards program. By using GrabPay for all services within the app, it’s easy to move up the tiers and unlock more perks. A few QR payments a week and the occasional GrabFood order should get you to Gold (900 points) quite quickly, especially if you’re within the Klang Valley and eat out/shop for groceries often. With a higher tier, you’ll be able to earn more points and redeem higher-value vouchers and discounts. Grab Challenges are also an easy way to earn loads of points by doing simple tasks such as topping up your e-wallet.
Besides GrabFood, GrabPay can also be used to purchase ride insurance, buy prepaid mobile credit and gift cards, settle water and telco bills, and even book hotel rooms from Agoda and Booking.com. While Grab doesn’t disclose their merchant and partner numbers (we tried asking), the platform is constantly expanding—just take the recent partnership with Malaysia’s first Don Don Donki, for example.
If you use e-wallets and Grab’s services frequently, GrabPay is an incredibly practical choice to earn extra rewards with your Ringgit.
Another familiar e-wallet to Malaysians, Boost was established in 2017 and saw tremendous growth from both users and merchants who signed up with its ubiquitous red app. With 8.8 million users and 213,000 merchant touchpoints, Boost is a steady presence in the e-wallet industry, offering a plethora of services to suit the modern Malaysian lifestyle.
Like Grab, Boost offers a tiered loyalty program called BoostUP, offering Boost Coins for every transaction made with the e-wallet. While a Level 1 Boostie earns 1 Boost Coin per Ringgit, a Level 5 Boostie can get up to 8 coins. Among other things, the Boost Coins can be redeemed for vouchers from the BoostUP catalogue, used to enter Pick&Win lucky draws, and can even be converted into real money which goes back into your Boost Wallet. (Isn’t that nice?) Boost used to offer direct withdrawals from the e-wallet to your bank account, but this feature has now been discontinued.
Extra incentives for users include Shake Rewards and Boost Missions. For the former, simply shake your phone for extra rewards (usually coins) after each transaction. Meanwhile, Boost Missions grant cashback and Coins upon completing the “mission objectives”. These are typically spending tasks, such as paying bills and buying prepaid credit.
One last perk for serial online shoppers: Boost offers CashUp, which gives cashback from partners when you open their site/app through Boost and checkout with the e-wallet!
Why We Love It
Simple- using Boost is fun. Besides the convenience of going cashless at so many merchants nationwide, the bonuses of Shake Rewards and Boost Missions make spending with the e-wallet surprisingly enjoyable (and rewarding.) Let’s not forget the sheer number of things you can do with the Boost app:
- Buy Boost Protect microinsurance plans (underwritten by Great Eastern) from RM1.70 per month
- Pay utility bills (e.g. SYABAS, Telekom, Astro)
- Buy plane and bus tickets (KLIA, RedBus, EasyBook.com)
- Pay for parking (MPKB, Majlis Daerah Machang, MPKT, SBKL and MBSJ)
- Pay for petrol without leaving your car with Boost’s integration with Setel, Petronas’ own app
- Pay Zakat.
With so many offerings, it might seem like Boost is unnecessarily complicated. But these features come in handy when you want something done efficiently without having to switch between apps and interfaces unnecessarily.
4.Touch ‘n Go eWallet
Accepted at over 300,000 touchpoints, the Touch ‘n Go eWallet has one of the widest reaches of any cashless payment app in Malaysia. You can find its blue and yellow QR stickers at mamaks and restaurants alike.
When Touch ‘n Go launched their e-wallet in 2017, Malaysians were initially hyped about possibly being able to reload our Touch n Go cards using our phones’ NFC technology, much like Singapore’s EZ-Link app. Gone would be the days of stopping by 7-Eleven or Watsons just to ensure sufficient toll balance. Alas, that feature still hasn’t materialised, but the e-wallet does have a few unique offerings which sets it apart from others in this list.
Touch ‘n Go updated their loyalty programme in 2020, calling it the Goal Hunter. Unlike other e-wallets, this programme doesn’t have tiers for the user to progress through. Instead, there are up to 10 stamps to be earned during each promotional period by paying with the TnG eWallet. The minimum purchase value is RM10 (one stamp), and vouchers can be redeemed for every two stamps earned. The current campaign, titled “Ramadan Raya”, features vouchers from Tesco, TaoBao, and myNEWS.
Why We Love It
The Touch ‘n Go e-wallet wins points for its clean and straightforward app interface. The introduction of PayDirect, a feature which enables the e-wallet to link with existing Touch n Go cards, also helps increase its overall usefulness. By adding your card in the app, toll charges will be directly deducted from your TnG e-wallet should your card have insufficient balance.
While this doesn’t solve the burning issue of inconvenient TnG top-ups, it’s a decent workaround, provided you have Auto-Reload enabled for your TnG e-wallet. For RFIDs, which aren’t dependent on cards since they’re just stickers, this direct debiting is a much more efficient payment method for highway travel.
Besides toll and retail payments, the Touch ‘n Go e-wallet also offers users the ability to:
- Compare and book low-cost flights in partnership with Airpaz
- Set it as a payment method for the App Store, Google Play Store, and Huawei AppGallery
- Pay for parking in KL, PJ, Shah Alam, Subang Jaya, Putrajaya, Machang, Kuala Langat, Seremban, Kota Bharu, and Kuala Terengganu
- Pay Zakat
- Invest using Touch n Go’s Go+ money market fund option called Principal e-Cash (return rate at time of writing- 1.47% p.a.)
This e-wallet is a must-have if you travel often. Its greatest advantage is its identity as the Touch ‘n Go app and the security of its Money-Back Guarantee should a customer find fraudulent payments made from their account.
5. MAE by Maybank
Our final e-wallet on the list is the only one backed by a bank instead of individual companies. With 450,000 touchpoints (and counting) all over Malaysia, Maybank’s MAE quietly took up yet another little square of cashier space when it debuted last year. Bright yellow and hard to miss, the e-wallet cum online banking app has now become a fixture in the cashless scene thanks to Maybank’s built-in customer base.
MAE offers the ease of Scan & Pay transactions while also allowing users to make full use of features previously only available on Maybank’s official app, Maybank2U. Because it’s tied to your Maybank account, no top-ups are required, so low wallet balance isn’t a worry. For existing Maybank customers, opening an MAE account will be easy as the bank already has your data and will only need verification. For non-Maybank account holders, sign-ups can be done from the MAE app itself without having to go to a Maybank branch- lagi convenient.
Why We Love It
MAE is the all-in-one app for Maybank customers. On top of being able to review account details and perform bank transfers, it also offers specific features to make saving and budgeting simpler for the busy adult. The “Expenses” feature tracks spending, so you know exactly where your money has gone at the end of the month. Meanwhile, “Tabung” allows a group of people to save money together (e.g. for a holiday) and keep each other accountable in their saving habits. MAE also lets you split bills easily with friends and transfer funds using DuitNow—no account number required!
Next, there’s also the option to apply for the MAE Card, a Visa Debit card very similar to BIGPay in its features and usage. The main advantage of this card would be its competitive exchange rates when travelling overseas and the sheer availability of Visa worldwide. Globe-trotters will appreciate this feature of MAE while shopping abroad or making online purchases from international sites.
The future of Maybank2U. If you’re already a Maybank customer, sign up and use MAE when promotions are ongoing to get cashback rewards or win prizes.
The State of the E-Wallet Game
There you have it, our list of the top five e-wallets in the country, ranked by overall usefulness and value to the average Malaysian. So many other e-wallets didn’t make the cut simply because their userbase is too small or niche, making them impractical to use. (We see you, RazerPay, KiplePay, WeChat Pay, GoPayz, and Zapp.) In this highly saturated market, cashless payment providers will have to innovate and come up with easy yet ingenious add-on services in the continuous battle for Malaysians’ virtual wallets.We hope this article has been helpful. Until next time, PolicyStreet wishes you smooth cashless transactions!