Contactless innovations keep the world moving amid COVID-19

With the movement of people temporarily restricted by social distancing measures and lockdowns 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.


Contactless Payment Scenarios and Use Cases in South and Southeast Asia

Image source: GCash

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


GCash in Philippines


For a country where cash has been the dominant way of making payments, cash usage during the nationwide lockdown in the Philippines has noticeably reduced. Locals have 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 has been 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%.

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 home, as well as limiting business opening hours and telecommuting. Many businesses have to be temporarily closed, except that supermarkets and F&B stores 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 as well as street store and food stall sellers to promote contactless payment and hygiene awareness. TrueMoney’s newly-launched in-app feature “Shop Near Me” helps consumers easily locate nearby stores and place order or request for delivery. With the trend to adopt contactless payment during COVID-19, TrueMoney has seen the number of app download grown by 20% over recent months.


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

A drug store cum bKash agent-point on the outskirts of Dhaka is taking precautions while delivering emergency services amid COVID-19 outbreak


bKash in Bangladesh


While 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. As most of the workers do not have bank accounts, bKash as an integrated platform is helping them 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. Now with the initiative taken by government to pay through mobile financial services providers like bKash, Shetu got her salary and nearly escaped starving with her family of five members. She said: “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

Image source: Kechara Soup Kitchen


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 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.

In Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines, local users have even gathered donations through their e-wallets, raising more than US$600,000 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. 


#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.


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