Topping up tech at THE Touch ‘n Go eWallet is the market leader in Malaysia with more than 15 million registered users and it has since set clear views on moving its infrastructure up a notch. TNG Digital Sdn Bhd, the company running eWallet, aims to disrupt the status quo by bringing financially inclusive and digitally available financial services to the market. The company has been granted conditional approval to operate as a recognised market operator (RMO) by the Securities Commission, making it the first e-wallet to secure the approval. Effendy Shahul Hamid, the group chief executive officer of parent company Touch ‘n Go Sdn Bhd, says it will launch a product in the first quarter of this year that will allow eWallet users to invest from as low as RM10. “If you look at the wallet business, it is clear. Payments is profit-neutral because there is a lot of incentivisation going on, and payments is about attracting users to the wallet platform and that is something we will continue to do. “Fortunately, we’ve had great tailwinds over the last two years and eWallet has been able to accrete a large number of users. “We have over 12 million eKYC’ed users on the wallet platform today and an area to monetise these users is in financial services, ” he says. The product that will be launched by this quarter is through Touch ‘n Go’s collaboration with Principal Asset Management, where the latter provides its expertise in fund management while the former offers its capabilities in analytics, engineering and reaching out to the mass public. Once the investment modules on the eWallet are launched, standard liquidity options will be put in place to allow users to cash out. A recent report by S&P Global Market Intelligence pointed out that e-money provides an attractive entry point into financial services without the burden of bank-like regulations. It said the dominance of non-banks as e-money issuers across the region makes e-money a good proxy for fintech payments. Touch ‘n Go has also started working with banks to provide a lending proposition for eWallet users. “Bear in mind that Touch ‘n Go and TNG Digital operate on an e-wallet licence, meaning that we’re unable to take deposits nor are we able to take risks. “But through good partnerships with banks and other manufacturers like asset management and insurance providers, we hope to be able to co-design products that regulators will find compelling for end-users. “For example, an insurance distribution platform becomes very important to us in 2021 and pairing it with data intelligence, we feel we’ll excel, ” says Effendy, adding that any technology product today has to be delivered with a lot of value and has to be inclusive. Touch’ n Go is also planning to tap the SME space and it has since launched a mini programme offering that will allow SMEs to come in and interact with the Touch ‘n Go eWallet community. Asked if Touch ‘n Go will apply for Bank Negara’s digital banking licence, Effendy says it is still studying the matter and if it goes into it, the company will do it in a partnership. It has yet to make any decision but it is definitely looking at the possibilities. “I do think this is going to change the entire operating landscape for banking and I do think that it will allow everyone to step up their game, which is good for the public. “Given the guidelines, I think you’re going to get quite a good response to it. So, I congratulate the central bank for thinking through the framework very well, ” he says. Effendy adds that digital bank licences present different strategic advantages such as treasury and ability to collect deposits, which will continue to be very attractive propositions. But he also stresses that both digital banks and payments and wallet companies are separate businesses. “There is a huge complementary working relationship between them. If you look at how payment companies and banks work together in China, they actually leverage each other on a commercial basis. “At the same time they also compete. I think there are strategic advantages, there are some things you have to believe to do digital banking. “Availability of digital financial services is already going to be there as they are today and they will be more prevalent in the future through Touch ‘Go and other players. “So, watch this space. We will start rolling out a suite of financial services in partnership with different financial institutions, banks, insurance and asset management companies, ” he says. Meanwhile, Reuters reported last week that TNG Digital was in advanced talks with investors to raise US$150mil (RM608.1mil), which will see CIMB Group Holdings Bhd and Ant Group paring down their stakes. CIMB owns 100% of Touch ‘n Go, which in turn, owns 51% of TNG Digital. The other 49% is held by Ant. Responding to this, Effendy says this is typical of high-growth businesses in the segment and that it is looking at several equity funding opportunities as the eWallet seeks to expand into different verticals. “We’ve had some very good conversations with different parties who want to join forces with us and Ant as we build a leading consumer platform enterprise, ” he adds.
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