Collaboration: The Key to Developing a Sustainable Digital Economy

By Shuba Karun, Head of ESG Sustainability & Social Investment, Digital Investments, Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC).

THE commitment to sustainability ranks highly on the national agenda. Given the scale of what we are striving to achieve, it’s no surprise that sustainability is increasingly the measure through which companies are being judged by society. Businesses need to play a significant role in helping Malaysia achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, and it will require the concerted efforts of all companies to move forward on

Acting responsibly is no longer a choice; it is essential. As digitalisation continues to gain momentum, businesses need to consider how they can reap the benefits of technology while promoting responsible practices. With the increased focus on sustainability, adopting Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles is now a business imperative, which COVID-19 has further accelerated.

The overarching priority for business leaders should be to start building the necessary expertise across their organisations now. Given MDEC’s role in leading the digital economy forward and recognising the increasing role that the industry will play in the nation’s development, we are striving for a deeply integrated future with technology.

But it is also critical that we achieve this in a way that delivers a prosperous, inclusive and sustainable Malaysia, providing equitable digital opportunities to all. MDEC’s activities align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals; however, we can and must do more. We will consider ESG principles in our decision-making process in line with the government’s recent statement.

Although a strong ESG profile is critical to maintaining a competitive edge in the digital marketplace, awareness, and appreciation of ESG issues have not yet fully translated into business practices. MDEC will become an enabler, advocating the adoption of ESG principles across Malaysia’s digital economy ecosystem and developing collaborations with key external bodies in the field.

For example, we are committed to becoming the first Malaysian agency to participate in the UN Global Compact and have recently supported SDG Ambition Month 2021, organised by its Malaysia network


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US-headquartered UST Global has recently been named to the list of the Everest Group’s PEAK Matrix® Top 20 IT Service Providers of the Year 2020. Having started UST Global’ s operations in Malaysia in 2006 and awarded MSC Malaysia status the same year, with its first centre in Penang in 2011, the UST Global Malaysia has grown to become one the group’s biggest delivery centre locations in the world. MDEC recently spoke with Amar Chhajer, Country Head of UST Global Malaysia, on the company’s journey in Malaysia.

Amar Chhajer, Country Head of UST Global Malaysia

MDEC: Congratulations for making it to the Everest Group’s Top 20 IT Service Providers of the year 2020. Tell us more about UST Global Malaysia.

Amar: UST became one of the biggest IT & engineering service company in Malaysia by 2017. Malaysia has been a strong, growing market for the company and we see massive potential in this market. Today some of the world’s largest corporations are UST Global’ s clients in Malaysia, and they consider UST Global as their strategic advisor and partner. Driven by UST Global’ s mission of Transforming Lives through Technology, UST Global Malaysia has been instrumental in building the local ecosystem and capability development in the niche and emerging areas like IT, IoT, Silicon Engineering, Automation, and Industry 4.0. For this, we work closely with many organizations, especially MDEC for the development of talent in the local ecosystem and creating awareness about Technology Opportunities and investments.

MDEC: How has UST Global been expanding your footprint in Malaysia?

Amar: UST Global Penang as one of the biggest delivery centres of UST Global, is attracting a lot of technology projects and jobs to the state. We have recently launched our first Infinity Labs in South East Asia and third Delivery Centre in Malaysia at Penang to provide an exciting springboard and a collaborative environment for the employees, customers, academia, and partner ecosystem. UST Global’ s expansion of Penang’s delivery centre is part of the company’s ongoing initiative to increase its presence and grow in Malaysia. It solidifies the company’s commitment to ‘Transforming Lives’ and plans explicitly to leverage local Malaysian talent in addition to providing opportunities for University graduates and IT experts keen on harnessing their technology skills.

MDEC: How do you create an exciting work-life for your talent?

Amar: We constantly encourage the active participation of our leaders and associates in our efforts to giving back to society. The various initiatives that I can think of are Beach Cleaning / Gotong Royong along with the City Council of Penang Island, celebrating the joy of giving week with St Nicholas’ Home, Silver Jubilee Home for the Aged, Adopt a School initiative etc.  We also joined hands with a non-profit organization, Befrienders and launched a digital intelligence platform to assist the Organisation to provide a more focused and strategic approach towards suicide prevention.

MDEC: Thank you for sharing with us the UST Global story in Malaysia. We wish you all the best and look forward to hearing more Malaysian success stories from UST Global.

UST Global yang beribu pejabat di Amerika Syarikat baru-baru ini telah disenaraikan dalam  PEAK Matrix® Top 20 IT Service Providers of the Year 2020 oleh Everest Group. Setelah memulakan operasi UST Global di Malaysia pada tahun 2006 dan diberi status MSC Malaysia pada tahun yang sama, UST Global Malaysia dengan pusat pertamanya di Pulau Pinang pada tahun 2011, telah berkembang menjadi salah satu lokasi pusat penghantaran terbesar di dunia. MDEC baru-baru ini berbicara dengan Amar Chhajer, Ketua Negara UST Global Malaysia, pada hari ke-3.

MDEC: Tahniah kerana berjaya tersenarai di dalam ke Top 20 IT Service Providers of the year 2020 oleh Kumpulan Everest 2020. Beritahu kami lebih lanjut mengenai UST Global Malaysia.

Amar: UST menjadi salah satu syarikat perkhidmatan IT & kejuruteraan terbesar di Malaysia menjelang tahun 2017. Malaysia telah menjadi pasaran yang kuat dan berkembang untuk syarikat tersebut dan kami melihat potensi besar di pasaran ini. Pada masa ini, beberapa syarikat terbesar di dunia adalah pelanggan UST Global di Malaysia, dan mereka menganggap UST Global sebagai penasihat dan rakan kongsi strategik mereka. Didorong oleh misi ‘Transformasi Kehidupan Melalui Teknologi’, UST Global Malaysia telah memainkan peranan dalam membangun ekosistem tempatan dan memperkembangkan kemampuan di kawasan-kawasan khusus seperti IT, IoT, Kejuruteraan Silikon, Automasi, dan Industri 4.0. Untuk ini, kami bekerjasama rapat dengan banyak organisasi, terutama MDEC untuk pengembangan bakat dalam ekosistem tempatan dan memberi kesedaran mengenai Peluang dan pelaburan Teknologi.

MDEC: Bagaimanakah pula tentang perkembangan UST Global di Malaysia?

Amar: UST Global di Pulau Pinang merupakan salah satu pusat penghantaran terbesar UST Global, telah menarik banyak projek berteraskan teknologi dan peluang pekerjaan ke negeri tersebut. Kami baru-baru ini melancarkan Makmal Infiniti pertama kami di Asia Tenggara dan Pusat Penghantaran ketiga di Malaysia di Pulau Pinang untuk menyediakan batu loncatan untuk mengadakan satu persekitaran kolaboratif untuk pekerja, pelanggan, ahli akademik, dan rakan kongsi ekosistem kami. Perluasan UST Global ke pusat penghantaran Pulau Pinang adalah sebahagian daripada inisiatif berterusan syarikat kami untuk berkembang di Malaysia. Ini mengukuhkan komitmen syarikat untuk ‘Mengubah Kehidupan’ dan merancang secara terperinci untuk memanfaatkan bakat tempatan Malaysia di samping memberi peluang kepada lulusan Universiti dan pakar IT yang berminat untuk memanfaatkan kemahiran teknologi mereka.

MDEC: Bagaimana anda mengadakan persekitaran kerja yang seronok untuk pekerja-pekerja anda?

Amar: Kami sentiasa mendorong penglibatan aktif para pemimpin dan rakan sekerja kami dalam usaha untuk memberi balik kepada masyarakat. Antara inisiatif yang dapat saya fikirkan adalah Pembersihan Pantai dan Gotong Royong bersama dengan Majlis Bandaraya Pulau Pinang. Sewaktu itu, kami bersama dengan Rumah St Nicholas, Rumah Orang Tua Jubli Perak, inisiatif ‘Adopt A School’ dan lain-lain. Kami juga berganding bahu dengan organisasi kebajikan, ‘Befrienders’ dalam melancarkan platform digital pintar untuk membantu organisasi kami untuk memberikan pendekatan yang lebih fokus dan strategik untuk mencegah kemurungan terutamanya cubaan membunuh diri.

MDEC: Terima kasih kerana berkongsi dengan kami tentang UST Global di Malaysia. Semoga kami dapat mendengar lebih banyak lagi kisah kejayaan UST Global di Malaysia.


Click Here to Read Part 1 of 2


The COVID-19 pandemic has been an unexpected catalyst, similar to the Global Financial Crisis in 2008-2009 which back then, provided the impetus to growth of fintech.  In this context of the COVID-19 impacted economy, in order to emerge victorious in the long term, our local fintech and Islamic fintech companies will have to seize the moment and future-proof their business during this period.

Islamic Fintech: Serving the Underserved Market

In spite of our high banked-population 17% of Malaysians have a life insurance policy, possibly pointing to the fact that budgeting and financial planning are still low on the take up. Six out of 10 Malaysians work in the gig economy or are self-employed, and thus, have to opt for a scheme that supports their pension or retirement needs either with the EPF, or privately.

Underserved markets in Malaysia offer opportunities for Islamic Fintech players as Malaysia strives towards ‘financial Inclusion’ as a goal within sustainable growth with fair and equitable distribution, in line with Shared Prosperity Vision 2030. Add to that the recent COVID-19 crisis and its anticipated impact on the overall Malaysian economy, and you get an underserved that is readier than ever for digitally abled and enabled enterprises. The underserved will now grow to include those dependent on the digital economy for a boost in their livelihoods – alongside a severe need to educate and connect communities as part of financial inclusion.  

Players successful in Malaysia such as Wahed Invest, Finterra and Ethis are key Islamic Fintech companies which are making a splash, but every activity in the fintech space is of value to the underserved – MSME and B40 population. Take the instance of an initiative by MDEC collaborating with Koperasi Warga Hijrah Selangor (KoHijrah) and Aspirasi (a subsidiary of Axiata Digital), to offer working capital financing up to RM3000 to eligible members of KoHijrah. Successful applicants are then given exposure to digital marketing techniques and instruction on how to activate the customer’s service for food delivery through digital platforms.

Alluding to the fact that Islamic Fintech is all about financial inclusion, Umar Munshi of Ethis Ventures Malaysia said, “The world is rapidly reinventing itself with technology, bringing huge gains to society. Muslims especially, have the opportunity to create new solutions and ecosystems in the Islamic Digital Economy, to match and serve unique needs, based on the universal ethical principles of Islam.”

Onward, Islamic Fintech

Islamic Fintech and Islamic Digital Economy encourage financial inclusivity by increasing awareness and providing access to MSMEs, B40 and the gig economy through digital financial instruments which address various aspects of SLIP or Savings, Lending, Investment and Payments.

It is the financial inclusiveness of Islamic Fintech that Norhizam feels is the Islamic Digital Economy’s biggest asset. “Malaysia’s Islamic fintech players will continue to serve underserved markets both locally and globally – as Malaysia builds on the strength of Islamic products and services, to be the #1 Islamic Fintech nation in the world,” concludes Norhizam.


Credit: shutterstock_176663030

The COVID-19 pandemic has been an unexpected catalyst, similar to the Global Financial Crisis in 2008-2009 which back then, provided the impetus to growth of fintech.  In this context of the COVID-19 impacted economy, in order to emerge victorious in the long term, our local fintech and Islamic fintech companies will have to seize the moment and future-proof their business during this period.

Malaysia: A Base for Islamic Fintech

“Malaysia has all the right ingredients to be an attractive base for an Islamic Fintech hub”, articulates Norhizam bin Abdul Kadir, Vice President – Fintech and Islamic Digital Economy Division, sharing why Malaysia is acclaimed as the world’s Islamic Fintech Hub.

”With 95% of Malaysians having deposit accounts, having progressive regulations and ranked 1st in the Global Islamic Economy Index based on 521.3 billion in Islamic Finance assets and 42.2 billion in lifestyle spend on tangible products”, continues Norhizam, as he posits that this global crisis now may well be a boon to businesses promoting digital financial inclusivity as countries look for solutions to rebalance the socio-economic equation arising from wreaked economies.

Malaysia has seen significant contributions to its GDP come from its flourishing digital economy, recording 18.5% in 2019 growing to a predicted 21% by 2022. The country is also a focal point for Islamic digital economic activity comprising of digital products and services catering to the Islamic crowd according to the State of the Global Islamic Economy Report 2019/ 2020.

In essence, the ace in the hole for Malaysiais that it has aptly developed world-class regulation, driving new initiatives to accredit halal certifiers worldwide, granting the first Islamic fintech crowdfunding license and launching a new certification scheme for Muslim friendly hospitality.

In terms of the market access for Malaysian Fintech, the Islamic economy is largely underserved US3.2 trillion global market with an expected 6.2% CAGR in 2024. The emerging Islamic market covering Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan, Nigeria and Senegal among others, offers significant opportunities to players in Islamic Digital Economy. The Muslim population will touch 2.2 billion by 2030 and 15 Muslim countries represent the top 50 countries with the highest smartphone penetration. Muslim populations are also seen to be increasing in affluence and have a growing appetite for investment.

Islamic Fintech is by Nature, Inclusive

From MDEC’s perspective in line with the drive towards businesses, communities and investors taking the Digital Leap in the era of IR4.0 , last month the Star quoted MDEC’s Chairman, YBhg Datuk Wira Dr. Rais Hussin emphasising that, “Society 5.0 holds the promise to converge these environments together through the use of IR 4.0 technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain and fintech (financial services technology)”.

Technological innovation in finance has always led to the fear of players not falling into the regulatory framework, thus not accountable to the same checks and balances as conventional players in banking and finance.

In terms of regulatory policies, banking and finance is essentially different from the many industries that technology has disrupted of late, such as healthcare or retail. Almost every fintech company, Islamic or conventional, is obligated to its customers’ money management and financial well-being.

However, Malaysia appears to be poised favourably within Islamic fintech to take advantage of the regulations that help its growth; The International Monetary Fund states that “Islamic bank loan growth in the country expanded by 8.9 percent in 2018, compared to 2.5 percent for conventional banks. While Islamic fintech is still in its infancy in Malaysia, the central bank supports efforts to promote the sector.” The regulations work in a way that Islamic financial institutions benefit from improved transparency—a core principle of Islamic finance.

Hence, Islamic Fintech seems to not only be able to withstand regulation, but also turn regulation into a springboard as its principles are deeply rooted in transparency and thus, inclusion.

Click Here to Read Part 2 of 2

Pandemik COVID-19 telah menjadi pemangkin yang tidak dijangka, mirip dengan Krisis Kewangan Global pada tahun 2008-2009 yang pada masa itu, memberi dorongan kepada perkembangan industri fintech. Dalam konteks ekonomi yang terjejas oleh COVID-19 ini, untuk mengekalkan kejayaan jangka panjang, syarikat fintech dan industri fintech Islam tempatan kita harus merebut masa dan membuktikan masa depan perniagaan mereka dalam tempoh ini.

Malaysia: Pangkalan Industri Fintech Islam

“Malaysia memiliki ramuan yang tepat untuk menjadi pangkalan yang menarik untuk hab industri fintech Islam,” kata Norhizam Abdul Kadir, Naib Presiden – Bahagian Ekonomi Digital Islam dan Fintech ketika berkongsi mengapa Malaysia diakui sebagai Pusat Industri Fintech Islam dunia.

“Sebanyak 95% rakyat Malaysia memiliki akaun deposit, memiliki peraturan progresif dan menduduki tempat pertama dalam Indeks Ekonomi Islam Global berdasarkan 521.3 bilion aset Kewangan Islam dan 42.2 bilion perbelanjaan gaya hidup untuk produk ketara”, Norhizam berkata dengan lanjut, sambil berpendapat bahawa krisis global ini mungkin dapat memberi keuntungan kepada perniagaan yang mempromosikan inklusiviti kewangan digital kerana negara-negara mencari jalan keluar untuk mengimbangi semula persamaan sosio-ekonomi yang timbul dari ekonomi yang dirosakkan.

Malaysia telah menyaksikan sumbangan yang besar terhadap KDNKnya berasal dari ekonomi digitalnya yang berkembang pesat, mencatatkan 18.5% pada tahun 2019 berkembang menjadi 21% pada tahun 2022. Negara ini juga menjadi tumpuan bagi aktiviti ekonomi digital Islam yang terdiri daripada produk dan perkhidmatan digital yang memenuhi orang Islam menurut Laporan Ekonomi Islam Global 2019/2020.

Pada hakikatnya, hak asasi bagi Malaysia adalah bahawa ia telah mengembangkan peraturan bertaraf dunia dengan tepat, mendorong inisiatif baru untuk mengiktiraf sijil halal di seluruh dunia, memberikan lesen crowdfunding industri fintech Islam pertama dan melancarkan skema pensijilan baru untuk layanan ramah Muslim.

Dari segi akses pasaran untuk Fintech Malaysia, ekonomi Islam sebahagian besarnya adalah pasaran global US $ 3,2 triliun dengan jangkaan 6,2% CAGR pada tahun 2024. Pasaran Islam yang muncul meliputi Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan, Nigeria dan Senegal antara lain, menawarkan yang signifikan peluang kepada pemain dalam Ekonomi Digital Islam. Penduduk Muslim akan mencecah 2.2 bilion pada tahun 2030 dan 15 negara Islam mewakili 50 negara teratas dengan penembusan telefon pintar tertinggi. Penduduk Muslim juga dilihat semakin kaya dan mempunyai selera pelaburan yang semakin meningkat.

Islamic Fintech adalah Inklusif

Dari perspektif MDEC sejajar dengan dorongan ke arah perniagaan, komuniti dan pelabur yang mengambil Digital Leap pada era IR4.0, bulan lalu Star memetik Pengerusi MDEC, YBhg Datuk Wira Dr. Rais Hussin menekankan bahawa, “Society 5.0 menepati janji untuk menyatukan persekitaran ini bersama-sama melalui penggunaan teknologi IR 4.0 seperti kecerdasan buatan (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain dan fintech (teknologi perkhidmatan kewangan) ”.

Inovasi teknologi dalam kewangan selalu menyebabkan ketakutan para pemain tidak masuk ke dalam kerangka peraturan, sehingga tidak bertanggung jawab atas cek dan keseimbangan yang sama dengan pemain konvensional dalam perbankan dan kewangan.

Dari segi polisi pengawalseliaan, perbankan dan kewangan pada dasarnya berbeza dengan banyak industri yang terganggu oleh teknologi sejak akhir-akhir ini, seperti penjagaan kesihatan atau peruncitan. Hampir setiap syarikat fintech, Islam atau konvensional, berkewajiban untuk mengurus wang dan kesejahteraan kewangan pelanggannya.

Namun, Malaysia nampaknya siap dalam fintech Islam untuk memanfaatkan peraturan yang membantu pertumbuhannya; Dana Monetari Antarabangsa menyatakan bahawa “Pertumbuhan pinjaman bank Islam di negara ini meningkat 8.9 peratus pada tahun 2018, berbanding 2.5 peratus untuk bank konvensional. Sementara fintech Islam masih di peringkat awal di Malaysia, bank pusat menyokong usaha untuk mempromosikan sektor ini. ” Peraturan tersebut berfungsi dengan cara yang membolehkan institusi kewangan Islam mendapat ketelusan yang lebih baik – prinsip utama kewangan Islam.

Oleh itu, industri fintech islam nampaknya tidak hanya dapat menahan peraturan, tetapi juga mengubah peraturan menjadi batu loncatan kerana prinsipnya sangat berakar pada ketelusan dan dengan demikian, penyertaan.


Source: MDEC files

‘Full time’ jobs are probably a thing of the past.

Besides accelerating digital adoption for businesses and individuals, COVID-19 has had a profound impact on the nature of employment and how we perceive success through the jobs we have.

The reality is that workers need to be flexible and agile as the work structure has been disrupted and future jobs will either be on contract basis, part-time or temporary, according to a recent news report in Free Malaysia Today. It proceeds to state that among emerging jobs, 9 out 10 jobs are related to STEM learning, creating an evident shift in the skills demanded.

Creating jobs is the first step, not the last.

Pockets of relief have emerged job-creation wise, within the digital economy, as the norms of physical distancing seem to continue to play out amid worries of asymptomatic Covid-19 positive patients and new clusters.  

The CMCO was perhaps the first joint step between both government and private sectors, to restart the economy and preserve jobs. However, as we brace for eventual recovery, creating jobs alone, is not enough. Just as crucial is ensuring that workers are equipped to handle the shift in skill demand by employers and the overall job market.

Opportunities to digitally reskill or upskill are here.

With the need for greater digital adoption among businesses, governments and communities, major players in the digital ecosystem who are leading this change, have been the first to present opportunities to upskill and reskill, to ready talents for future jobs.

Huawei Malaysia for instance, just launched the Huawei ASEAN Academy, to empower digital talent in Malaysia. It is expected to provide more than 3,000 information and communications (ICT) courses, and groom 50,000 Malaysian talents over the next five years.

To address the issue of unemployed workers and presenting them with opportunities to digitally upskill or reskill, a partnership between MDEC and Coursera called ‘Let’s Learn Digital’ was launched recently. SAP Malaysia earlier also collaborated with MDEC as part of the latter’s #DigitalVsCovid movement, for SAP to nurture talent, build a future workforce and grow the digital ecosystem.

The pandemic bares the inherent limitations of training and placing.

Physical distancing also translated to effects on the education supply chain, affecting education systems and delivery as they were.

Technical and vocational education and training generally requires physical attendance.  The current limitations imposed by connectivity and access plague this process of upskilling. Also, once trained, placement is a separate process to training. There isn’t a guaranteed conveyor belt from education and training to placement.

The deeper issue of matching graduating talents to tech or digital jobs linger, needing urgent attention, that pertains to the over 300,000 graduates who enter the job market annually. These graduates come from every conceivable type of educational institution from the polytechnic and university, to the TVET institution.

The challenge is not the size or speed of the conveyor belt of education to employment, but its relevance. Training and placing workers has long been the proverbial ‘cart before the horse’ in the quest to create gainful employment.

Perhaps it is time to revisit and invert this approach, as we face pressures to respond quickly to business needs which are knock-on effects of the pandemic, to face the new global economy ahead.

Leverage strengths to meet demand for digital skills.

According to the Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2020 (GTCI 2020), Malaysia has moved up two spots, to the 26th position out of 88 countries. The country outperformed high-income economy countries, such as China, South Korea, Spain and Portugal.

In a recent news report, MDEC’s CEO, Surina Shukri aptly stressed that these achievements reinforce the fact that Malaysia is on the right track to develop industry-ready digital talent as the global economy explores a new norm. Are we then, leveraging this advantage at a national scale?

Though Malaysia ranks well on the GTCI, another reality has to be considered as well; Digital business models and platforms are profoundly reshaping how businesses work. Even as far back as 2018, the World Economic Forum projected that while nearly a million jobs may be lost, another 1.75 million will be created. Is Malaysia preparing for this burgeoning demand?

In the local context, even in pre-pandemic times, SMEs had already been expressing a dire need for digitally skilled talent, which are not in ready supply. According to MDEC’s CMO Raymond Siva in a webinar by Marketing Magazine titled The Survival Guide for SMEs Post MCO-Lockdown (Focus: Agencies) last week, a quick survey conducted by MDEC on 5 job portals which included LinkedIn, SeekAsia and Jobstreet, showed that there were close to 5000 digital jobs vacant, pre COVID-19. With digitalisation and innovation in the new normal, these numbers could be far higher.

Place and train, not train and place.

As unemployment numbers in March rose to 610,000, the need to resolve the glaring gap between talents graduating and the digital skills sought, take centre stage.

“MDEC is currently assessing the demand and supply in the digital job market, specifically to identify the roles and skills requiring attention. Immediately evident are the businesses looking for coders, programmers, developers, designers and data scientists, to serve game industry, global supply chains, e-Commerce and cross-border trading. Job matching is top-of-mind for both the government as well as the private sector”, expressed Siva.

“MDEC will be organising a campaign next month to bring the talent supply and demand to a focal point and drive activities that will facilitate matching. The aim is to also explore ‘place and train’ as a new norm as it will better match the skills needed to the people already available or with a baseline skills that can be upskilled to requirements ”, said Siva.

COVID-19 may have created socio-economic vulnerabilities, but the digital economy and ecosystem offer an equitable remedy to relieve the economy. Full time jobs may be a thing of the past, but skilling, reskilling or upskilling an individual for new roles in employment is here to stay; and for those who are agile and adaptable, opportunities abound.

#LetsBuildTogether #DigitalVsCovid #KomunikasiKita #DigitalEconomy #KitaTeguhKitaMenang

by Shobha Janardanan

Cerita saya tentang E-Wallet. Apa cerita anda?

Hampir 10 tahun ‘meninggalkan’ Kuala Lumpur kerana bertugas dan menetap di Machang Bubok, Bukit Mertajam, yang merupakan sebuah pekan kecil di utara tanah air, penulis kembali ke ibu kota untuk memulakan tugas baharu di sebuah agensi kerajaan di Cyberjaya.

Secara kebetulan, agensi ini terkait rapat dengan usaha mendigitalkan ekonomi Malaysia. Sejujurnya, penulis tidak ‘menyedari’ kewujudan agensi ini walaupun ditubuhkan oleh kerajaan pada 1996 namun kini ia menjadi tempat mencari rezeki.

Namun begitu, tidak ada yang perlu dimalukan kerana sememangnya kita tidak tahu semua perkara dalam dunia. Maka, ungkapan setiap hari merupakan proses pembelajaran terpakai dalam konteks ini. Maafkan saya jika ada yang tidak bersetuju.

Sepanjang ‘berumah’ di utara, boleh dikatakan amat jarang untuk penulis berkunjung ke ibu negara, hanya beberapa kali sahaja jika ada urusan penting.

Mungkin selesa dengan kehidupan serba sederhana dan tenang di sana, termasuk urusan harian yang dilangsungkan secara konvensional. Sudah pasti, sebuah warung yang menyajikan kopi kampung terbaik dan pelbagai kuih – muih sentiasa diingati. Penulis kadang – kala membayar mengunakan syiling sahaja kerana harganya yang sangat murah. Tidak ada istilah e- Wallet di situ.

Namun demikian, penulis sedar sejak beberapa tahun lalu sudah muncul istilah ‘cashless’ berdasarkan pembacaan.

Penulis tahu di China, rakyatnya menggunakan e-wallet untuk urusan harian termasuk membeli kopi di Starbuck.

Ketika di utara, penulis hanya menggunakan kad pra bayar touch and go, itu pun kerana pada 2015, terdapat satu polisi bahawa tiada lagi pembayaran secara tunai di plaza tol. Penjelasan yang diberikan oleh pihak konsesi dan kerajaan ketika itu ialah kerana mahu mengurangkan kesesakan di akibat transaksi tunai.

Masih ingat lagi, usai pengumuman berkenaan, media sosial ‘meletup’ dengan pelbagai reaksi, ada yang menyokong namun ramai juga yang tidak bersetuju kerana alasan keputusan itu tidak peka kepada pengguna yang tidak mempunyai kemampuan membeli kad pra bayar.

Wujud juga kekeliruan maklumat bahawa pemilik kad pra bayar harus memasukkan jumlah RM50 setiap kali tambah nilai. Nah, sumpah seranah memenuhi dinding media sosial.

Berbalik kepada cerita e-Wallet, pada bulan pertama bertugas di tempat baharu, penulis diarahkan menghadiri seminar Hari Terbuka E-Dagang Malaysia yang dianjurkan di bangunan indah serba moden reka bentuknya yang dimiliki Kementerian Perdagangan Antarabangsa dan Industri (MITI).

Penulis masih belum memiliki kad touch and go yang baharu kerana kad lama hilang. Akibatnya, penulis tidak dapat memarkir kenderaan di kawasan yang disediakan kerana hanya pengguna yang memiliki kad touch and go sahaja boleh memasuki ruang berkenaan.

Terpaksalah mengundur kenderaan dan dihon oleh pemandu di belakang. Penulis terpaksa meletakkan kenderaan di bahu jalan luar bangunan itu sambil berdoa tidak disaman.

Ketika waktu makan tengah hari, pengunjung berpusu – pusu menyerbu beberapa food truck yang disediakan. Penulis juga mahu ikut serta kemeriahan itu namun kecewa apabila melihat peniaga meletakkan papan tanda pembayaran e-Wallet seperti kod bar, Alipay dan sebagainya.

Sedikit hampa, penulis mengatur langkah mencari kantin di bangunan berkenaan dan berharap pengendalinya masih menerima bayaran tunai. Akhirnya, makanlah nasi campur berlauk ikan goreng kerana hasrat hendak membeli burger kambing yang dijual pengusaha food Food Truck tidak kesampaian kerana ketiadaan e-Wallet serta aplikasi pembayaran yang boleh dimuat turun menerusi telefon pintar. Ya, saya masih old school, retro, klasik atau tradisional.

Bulan berikutnya, penulis bertugas di Bangsar untuk satu program pada hari Jumaat. Pada waktu solat Jumaat, penulis singgah di sebuah masjid. Apa yang menariknya, tidak kelihatan tabung untuk jemaah menghulurkan sumbangan seperti kebiasaan sebaliknya pengurusan masjid memaparkan bar kod untuk pengunjung yang berhasrat memberi derma. Penulis kagum dengan evolusi e-Wallet yang semakin meluas penggunaannya.

Akhirnya, penulis mula membeli kad touch and go baharu untuk memudahkan urusan harian.

Melalui beberapa bacaan, penulis mendapati menjelang 2022, hanya 17 peratus pembayaran global dibuat secara tunai manakala penggunaan dompet digital dan mudah alih akan terus meningkat mencecah 28 peratus daripada semua urus niaga jualan.

Menurut, sehingga Februari tahun lepas, China merupakan negara yang mempunyai pengguna mobile e-Wallet tertinggi di dunia dengan mencapai 26 peratus diikuti India dan UAE sebanyak 6 peratus.

Sedikit mengecewakan apabila portal berkenaan mendapati kadar penggunaan mobile e-Wallet di Malaysia hanya satu peratus sahaja namun ini tidak bermaksud negara kita ketinggalan. Jangan jadikan kes penulis sebagai contoh!

Menyedari kepentingan masyarakat tanpa tunai yang terkait rapat dengan ekonomi digital, kerajaan mula melaksanakan beberapa langkah terutamanya Inisiatif e-Tunai Rakyat yang diumumkan dalam pembentangan Belanjawan 2020.

Menerusi program ini, rakyat Malaysia yang memenuhi kriteria di bawah boleh mendapatkan RM30 secara satu kali dengan Boost membabitkan peruntukan RM450 juta bagi menggalakkan budaya digital dan peralihan kepada masyarakat tanpa tunai.

Bagi memastikan inisiatif terbabit mempercepatkan proses digitalisasi, wang RM30 itu perlu dibelanjakan penerima hingga 14 Mac 2020, manakala baki yang tidak dibelanjakan akan luput selepas tarikh berkenaan.

Selain itu, rakyat perlu menuntut wang berkenaan selewat-lewatnya pada 9 Mac depan melalui pengendali e-dompet terpilih.

Kerajaan turut menggalakkan semua peniaga supaya berdaftar dengan satu atau semua pengendali e-dompet supaya mereka mendapat manfaat daripada inisiatif ini.

Difahamkan, hingga kini, lebih lapan juta peniaga menyediakan perkhidmatan pembayaran melalui e-dompet berkenaan.

Semoga langkah ini akan merancakkan lagi budaya masyarakat tanpa tunai di negara kita dan penulis bersedia untuk bergerak ke arah e-Wallet sepenuhnya. Anda bagaimana?

#LetsBuildTogether #BinaBersama #DigitalMalaysians

Artikel oleh Mohd Firdaus Ismail

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