Southeast Asian ride-hailing app Grab has obtained regulatory approval to launch its mobile payment service in Malaysia.
The e-money license was granted by the country's central bank, which is pushing for a shift away from hard cash transactions to mobile electronic payments. Bank Negara estimates that cash handling and services cost the banking industry RM1.8 billion a year and electronic-based payments may result in savings amounting to up to 1% of a country's economy due to lower retail payment cost versus cash transactions.
Jason Thompson, managing director of GrabPay says: “Cash is still the most important payment method for many Malaysian SMEs and middle-class consumers, despite most adults having a deposit account. As one of the region’s most frequently used consumer apps with 72 million downloads, we are happy to work with Bank Negara to drive mass adoption of mobile payments in Malaysia and across Southeast Asia.”
Grab has made no secret of its efforts to become "the #1 universal mobile payments solution in Southeast Asia". In April, the firm agreed to buy Indonesian digital payments outfit Kudo to boost the GrabPay business and in August introduced new P2P funds transfer services and enhanced two-factor security protection.
Thomson says that GrabPay will be rolled out in stages to Malaysian consumers and SMEs from the beginning of 2018.
The announcement coincides with a move by Bank Negara to further stimulate the switch to electronic money, doubling fees for cheque processing and waiving charges for online funds transfers.