Contactless innovations keep the world moving amid COVID-19

Contactless payment is no longer a convenience, but a vital part of the "new normal" and may even help to flatten the curve on Covid-19. Its usage has been on the rise since the Movement Control Order (MCO) began in Malaysia, with some players seeing a surge in app downloads in the last month.

With the movement of people temporarily restricted by social distancing measures and Movement Control Order (MCO) in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is in a standstill. Having to work, study and live at home and reduce social interactions, people are turning to technology for help to minimize disruptions in their everyday lives. 

Contactless payment for one has become an essential part of everyday technology for shopping online, paying bills and ordering food. Furthermore, we are seeing the trend of contactless payment platforms fast evolving to deliver more innovative functionalities, fulfilling consumer needs such as payroll, entertainment, and even donations.

In Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines, local users have even gathered donations through their e-wallets, raising more than US$600,000 (RM2,617,800) in contactless donations. These donations to charitable organizations enable vulnerable groups to immediately access the support they need, including food, masks and other protective equipment.

In India and Indonesia, there are nearly 50 million people who are even using e-wallets to access accurate and timely information about the pandemic.

Contactless innovations keep the world moving amid COVID-19

E-wallets in South and Southeast Asia including Touch 'n Go eWallet in Malaysia, TrueMoney in Thailand, GCash in the Philippines, and bKash in Bangladesh, share their respective contactless innovations and the impact on local people during COVID-19.

Here are the contactless payment scenarios and use cases in South and Southeast Asia.

#1: Contactless Payment surging in popularity in the Philippines and Thailand 


GCash in the Philippines


For a country where cash has been the dominant way of making payments, its usage during the nationwide lockdown in the Philippines was noticeably reduced. Locals turned to online and mobile wallet services for both convenience and safety. GCash, the leading mobile wallet in the Philippines has seen a surge in the number of downloads and ranked the most downloaded free app in the Finance category in Google Play Store.

Since March, the most used services in GCash wallet include Buy Load and Remittance, of which the total transaction volume has grown by more than 30%.

TrueMoney in Thailand


Thailand was among the firsts in Southeast Asia to introduce social distancing measures. Since March, the government has implemented a series of measures including postponing the Songkran holidays, recommending people to stay at home, and limiting business opening hours and telecommuting. Many businesses have been temporarily closed, except for supermarkets and F&B stores that are open only for take-away and delivery services.

In order to comply with such measures and reduce the risks of infection, TrueMoney has joined hands with merchants such as 7-Eleven, Makro, CP Freshmart, True Coffee, Chester's along with street stores and food stall sellers to promote contactless payment and hygiene awareness. TrueMoney's newly launched in-app feature "Shop Near Me" helps consumers to easily locate nearby stores and place order or request for delivery.

With the trend to adopt contactless payment during COVID-19, TrueMoney has seen its app download rate climbed by 20% over recent months.

#2: Contactless Rescue - e-wallets become lifeline for those in need


bKash in Bangladesh


As the COVID-19 outbreak continues, Bangladesh has tightened its social distancing enforcement and extended the nationwide lockdown. As a result, millions of workers who have been living on daily wages are now left jobless amid one of the worst global crisis.

Serving around 40 million users in Bangladesh, bKash, the largest mobile financial services provider in the country has been working closely with the government to facilitate the distribution of salary and government incentive to the workers. With most of the workers are without bank accounts, bKash as an integrated platform, is helping them to collect salaries through their mobile wallets. After receiving salary, the workers can Cash Out from any of the 230,000 bKash agent-points located across the country, or use cashless services like Send Money, Mobile Recharge, Payments, etc.

A garment worker named Shetu, aged 28, who lives in the remote corner of north-eastern Bangladesh shared that she used to receive salary on the fixed date of every month in her factory. However, since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Bangladesh, the factory has been closed and many workers were not paid last month as most of them do not have bank accounts. With the initiative taken by government to pay through mobile financial services providers like bKash, Shetu was able to receive her salary and escaped starvation for her family of five. She adds, "Thanks to the authority as well as bKash for making a way for me to get my salary without being physically present at the factory. This service has been a lifeline for many workers like me."

#3: Contactless Philanthropy - more people donating from safety of their homes


Touch 'n Go eWallet in Malaysia


Touch 'n Go eWallet is extending a helping hand to the underprivileged communities by providing a better solution for the rakyat to offer financial relief directly to local non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

As the nation's choice for cashless transactions, Touch 'n Go eWallet wants to highlight the plight and need of those in its network such as Kechara Soup Kitchen, Tzu Chi Buddhist Foundation and Generasi Gemilang. Proceeds are channeled directly to the NGOs in Malaysia enabling to better answer needs of the homeless, vulnerable and low-income families in in a shorter time thereby cutting out lengthy administrative paperwork. To date, Touch 'n Go eWallet has facilitated donations worth more than RM280,000 to a total of 22 NGOs in Malaysia. 

Kechara Soup Kitchen

Kechara Soup Kitchen for example, was able to raise enough funds to provide foods and essential items to the poor families who are affected with the pandemic. Single parents, elderlies living alone, and impoverished families who have lost their source of income from the low-income urban areas to the Orang Asli community in Kampong Orang Asli Lebak, Gabong, Pasir, and Bentung areas are now receiving the help they desperately need in the form of food and health essentials to help them survive these difficult times.

At the same time, the struggling non-locals are not forgotten. Tzu-Chi Buddhist Foundation, with the aid of donors raised the needed fund to distribute food and health essentials to the underserved communities including face masks and hand sanitizers which are becoming increasing difficult to purchase.

#4: Contactless Fun - stay-home life can be awesome with entertainment accessible through e-wallets


Touch 'n Go eWallet in Malaysia


As a concerted effort to fight against COVID-19 and protect its people, Malaysia has implemented its nation-wide Movement Control Order (MCO) since 18 March 2020.

To help the locals through MCO with a smart, healthy and productive life, Touch 'n Go eWallet has introduced MCO Buddy, to crowdsource and share bite-sized lifestyle content ranging from cooking recipes, indoor fitness, personal finance to donations to keep people engaged and stay active.

Touch 'n Go eWallet users can access the MCO Buddy website through the wallet, where all the lifestyle content are housed. Since the roll-out in early April, MCO Buddy has garnered more than 100,000 views and support from the local community including fitness guru Kevin Zahri and celebrity chef Sherson Lian who are regular content contributors.
  
Commenting on the content, Kevin and Sherson shared;

Kevin Zahri
"While this is a difficult time for us all, I prefer to focus on the bright side and take it as an opportunity to do my part, that is to use my own skillset and experience to lift the spirits of millions of people who have to stay home. MCO Buddy is a great platform to engage and reconnect with audiences in a different way."   Also a fan and frequent user of contactless payment, Kevin added: "Over the last five to six weeks, I can count with one hand how many times I have handled cash. Whether it's ordering food, delivering a parcel, or buying groceries, contactless payment has been a blessing in disguise in allowing me and my family to live as "normal" as possible."

Kevin Zahri, Fitness Guru

Sherson Lian
"Without a doubt, I'm just like everyone out there who may have experienced confusion and uncertainty during this time. All the more, I hope to bring their attention to the basics of life, show them what's real and genuine and inspire people to appreciate the simple things through my cooking. It is quite an honour to be able to invite audiences into my own kitchen and enjoy cooking a meal together, virtually. Worry about cooking for the entire family? I've got your back!"

Sherson Lian, Celebrity Chef

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ecInsider News: Contactless innovations keep the world moving amid COVID-19
Contactless innovations keep the world moving amid COVID-19
Contactless payment is no longer a convenience, but a vital part of the "new normal" and may even help to flatten the curve on Covid-19. Its usage has been on the rise since the Movement Control Order (MCO) began in Malaysia, with some players seeing a surge in app downloads in the last month.
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