Whether we like or not, the pandemic has changed how we live and work, including how we make payments.  With movement restriction measures and the desire to minimise contact with cash, consumers are adopting new payment habits and favouring attitudes towards digital payments.

One may wonder what this means to Malaysia.  Are we becoming a cashless society?  What then are the benefits of ditching cash and paying with cards or smartphones?

A recent Consumer Payment Attitudes study[1] by Visa has found that Malaysia is well on its way to becoming a cashless society. Based on inputs from 1,000 respondents across the country, nearly half of the consumers surveyed expect Malaysia to be a cashless society within the next four years (2025), accelerated by the pandemic. Benefits of a cashless society include ‘safety’ from infection through the absence of cash handling, better tracking of financial records, and lower risks of theft.

Based on the findings, more than seven in ten Malaysians (74 percent) have also attempted to go cashless. More than half of respondents successfully lived their lives without cash for up to a week. Visa said that further growth is expected as confidence to go cashless is increasing, with more than half of consumers (59 percent) carrying less cash in their wallets.

Since the majority of offices and schools were forced to operate from home in the past two years, consumers across Malaysia are going online for their daily needs. According to the study, 52 percent said that they started shopping through apps or websites for the first time during the pandemic. One in four (25 percent) said they prefer to conduct transactions on their smartphones, either through apps or web browsers.

When it comes to the preferred set up of mobile e-commerce apps, more than half of consumers prefer one consolidated application for all types of transactions. This shows that in order for businesses to thrive, digitalisation helps reduce costs, standardise, and automate processes, and differentiate from competitors.

Even for in-store shopping, cashless payments have become a growing preference to maintain consumer retention and conversion. According to the study, 65 percent of Malaysians agree that they are drawn towards merchants who accept digital payments instead of cash only.

Consumers are also expressing interest towards digital payment innovations such as self-service checkouts, automated app payments, autopayments, and biometric payments.

It is clear the way Malaysian consumers choose to pay is changing.  It is time for businesses, large and small, to take advantage of this opportunity and, like your customers, realise the true benefits of a cashless society to take your business to new heights in 2022.

The Visa Consumer Payment Attitudes Study was conducted by CLEAR on behalf of Visa in September 2021 across eight Southeast Asian countries: Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. The total sample size is 7,500 including 1,000 consumers in Malaysia aged 18-65, with a minimum income cut-off of MYR2,000.


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