SIBU: Paying utility bills has never been easier now for businessman Bobby Wong, thanks to Sarawak Pay – a cashless mobile payment solution.

All Bobby, 51, needs to do is scan the QR code on the utility bills with his smartphone.

In less than a minute, the transaction is done. A digital receipt is then issued to his email address.

“Before this, I have to queue up at the Urban Transformation Centre (UTC) to pay my bills. The queue can be very long during peak hours,” said Wong.

“Driving, parking and queuing cost me more than an hour of my precious time,” he lamented.

To Wong and many other people in Sarawak, the implementation of the app was timely.

Right after the launch of Sarawak Pay on Nov 15 by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, Wong wasted no time in downloading the application to his handphone from Google Play (Android). The other method is to download it from Apps Store (iOS).

According to him, Sarawak Pay is easier to use compared with other available apps.

“Other apps are not so user friendly. You need to have a credit card or e-wallet to make payment. Sarawak Pay can be linked to your bank saving account, you can top up the e-wallet through online banking besides credit card,” he explained.

Before Sarawak Pay was available, online payment was made through commercial banks’ websites or through but these platforms were harder to use.

Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Sarawak vice-president Dr Hii Sui Cheng lauded the state government’s move to implement Sarawak Pay as part of its digital economy agenda.

“I am encouraging members to accept payment through Sarawak Pay and any other online payments. These are efficient payment methods which save cost and time. It will also boost productivity,” he said.

The chamber currently has more than 4,000 members in various businesses.

Dr Hii proposed that the fee imposed on cashless payment should be minimal.

“Currently, as Sarawak Pay is only recently being introduced, the usage is not widespread. Given time, its popularity will grow,” he added.

Sarawak Central Region Hotels Association chairman Johnny Wong reckoned that the members, especially star-rated hotels, would use Sarawak Pay to accept payments.”

“These hotels have been accepting payment from guests using credit card.

“It is not a problem for them to accept one more payment method.”

For budget hotel, Johnny said they needed to be encouraged to accept this type of payment.

“They are still relying on cash. I am sure they will switch to cashless mobile payment if the benefits are explained to them,” he said.

Sarawak has introduced cashless mobile payment solution as a way forward to embrace the fourth industrial revolution.

It is the first step to empower the state’s digital economy agenda that will enable it to leapfrog to embrace the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) and the digital age to achieve its goal of becoming a developed state by 2030. The e-wallet of Sarawak Pay is licensed under PaymentGalaxy Wallet and governed by Bank Negara.

The central bank has also approved the increase in the maximum amount of e-wallet top-up from RM200 to RM3,000.

With Sarawak Pay, the public can now pay their electricity bill, land rent, assessment bills of all 26 local councils in the state as well as 10 Grand Margherita Hotels and 14 Riverside Majestic Hotels.

Many fear that cybercriminal might take advantage to hack the users’ account to either steal their personal data or money from their bank account.

“I am adopting a wait-and-see attitude. Until there is an assurance from the government that it is secure, only then will I go for it,” he said.

Sarawak Assitant e-Commerce Minister Datuk Naroden Majais said Sarawak Pay was a trusted site for mobile payment as it was powered by PaymentGalaxy.

PaymentGalaxy is an online payment engine allowing merchants to receive payments through bank direct debiting or credit cards.

The company which operates the engine, according to its website, states that it does not store customer bank information. Transactions made are fraud-proof and credit card must be 3D Secured according to Visa and MasterCard regulations.

The company is certified with Malaysia Trustmark for Private Sector Level 3 by CyberSecurity Malaysia for being a trustworthy e-commerce operator and fulfilling internationally recognised standards in relation to the provision of payment card data security process.

Naroden noted: “New things always trigger some kind of excitement and curiousity as well as some feelings ambiguity and skepticism.”

He said once people were used to it and accepted it, online payment would become a norm and a culture for them.

“I wish to congratulate the state government, especially the Chief Minister, for taking a bold step into digital economy that will drive Sarawak into e-commerce, e-wallet, and virtual intelligence.

“I am very confident this move will become a norm and culture in Sarawak in the near future,” he said.

Sarawak Pay is expected to propel the state into a cashless society in the next five to 10 years.

Abang Johari spoke of plans to link the e-wallet to peninsular Malaysia and to neighbouring countries such as Indonesia, Thailand and China.

Three years ago, cash was still king in China until Alipay and Wechat shook up the entire economic system. China embraced mobile payments faster than any other country.

According to iResearch mobile payment transaction last year hit US$5.5 trillion, making China the largest mobile payment market in the world.

Sarawak government’s plan of linking Sarawak Pay to Alipay is a commendable move. With Alipay boasting 800 million users, the link will benefit merchants from both sides.

It is also a welcome respite for inbound Chinese tourists who depend on mobile payment for their purchases.

In the near future, Sarawak Pay will not just be another method for people to pay bills but will soon morph into a new mode of international payment for those in Sarawak.

State’s user-friendly mobile e-payment service gaining popularity.

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