As Malaysia moves towards a cashless society, the government is offering an award payment of RM30 (about $7.37) under its e-Tunai Rakyat (people’s e-cash) program, according to reports on Friday (Jan. 17).
The government is hoping to up the number of digital payment users to 15 million people. The incentive program started Jan. 15 and works with three e-wallet operators — Grab, Boost and Touch n Go.
“We want to double that to 15 million, if possible 16 million, so that nearly every Malaysian above 18 years will be on digital payment,” finance minister Lim Guan Eng said.
Payment is also being delivered directly into bank accounts for people who don’t have smartphones, he said.
“We can study the matter in the future. Let’s run this program first (e-Tunai Rakyat) and look at its development. If there are many complaints about this matter (the request to bank in the RM30), we will consider them,” he told reporters.
About 1.32 million applications to the program were approved out of the 1.7 million received, with almost RM40 million spent, said Lim.
“The Government wants to encourage digital payments because we feel it is important for Malaysia to become a cashless society one day, (when) we do all our payments online or on mobile phones,” he said. “Only then can we have greater efficiency and transparency, because when you go cashless, it is very hard for corruption to go undetected.”
The e-Tunai Rakyat program offers Malaysians 18 and older earning under RM100,000 a year a RM30 payment.
Lim said the government isn’t rushing into becoming a cashless nation because people living in rural areas need more time.
“We know many in the rural areas are not familiar with digital payment. We will do it slowly and progressively,” he said.
All told, the Malaysian government plans to distribute 450 million ringgit (more than $110 million) to half of its citizens.
Digital payments are expected to surge by 10.8 percent after the program’s implementation and hit roughly $17 billion over the next three years, according to the data portal Statista.