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COVID-19 endemic expedite the transformation of cash to digital payment


THE COVID-19 outbreak certainly marks a huge catastrophe towards the global changes in the perspective of political, social, economy, business, commerce, and entrepreneurship worldwide.


This outbreak brought tremendous effects towards the business operation and economy.  It weakens the growth of enterprises, affects the flow of sales, and slows down productivity, disrupts marketing of products, goods, and services. 


Many businesses, factories, and shops have to close down their operations due to failure in sustaining, lacking of customers and insufficient profit amidst the COVID-19 period.  Meanwhile, some branches that manage to survive have to be downsized and shift their business to online merchant. 


This subsequently leads to the nasty issue of unemployment.  Devastatingly, when the products or services could not be traded or retailed, tragically it will force retrenchment of labours to take place.


For that matter, to stay relevant in the era of the challenging turmoils of COVID-19 several steps, effective strategies and a shift of marketing plan have to be taken account seriously and implemented by entrepreneurs, businesses, retailers, and traders.


The famous quote “when there is a will, there is a way” must be applied by Malaysian entrepreneurs, businesses and retailers. They should be awake, keep up with the pace and be brave in facing the challenges by keeping up to the trend of online businesses and creating novelty, yet not forgetting the tradition of practicing the recipes of 4P‟s which are product, price, promotion and packaging.




This is imperative in order to compete with other enterprises and online merchants that are not only selling on conventional shops, but also in Malaysian online shopping or e-commerce platforms like Lazada, Shopee,, PrestoMall, Lelong, Hermo, Zalora, Carousell, Ezbuy, eBay, tele-marketing, and TV shopping programmes such as WOWShop and Go Shop.


Digital payment has also now become common among people in the COVID-19 endemic. It has become a normal trend for the Malaysian to be cashless, adapt and resort to digital payment or e-wallet on transaction or payment of goods and services. 


Using digital payment, people do not have to go to the bank to withdraw money from the counter or Automated Teller Machine (ATM) that will only be wasting time. In Malaysia, the government has provided an e-wallet which is the safest and hygienic way for people without the conventional way of paying cash.


Presently in Malaysia, there was an increase in the number of conventional small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) opening online banking accounts to facilitate the transfer of funds rather than depositing traditional cheques at their local bank branches. 


It ease the hassle making a healthy eco-system as the transaction is economical, fast and convenient for the buyers, thus not only in line with  the revolution of digital metamorphosis but also supporting the Malaysian Sustainability Development SDG’s 9, Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure and also SDG’S 3 preserving the Good Health and Well-being.


How Digital Payment Works

The digital payment is the most convenient transaction between buyers and sellers through internet connection. Many financial institutions currently provide an application for their customer to stay connected with their bank accounts such as Maybank2u from Maybank, from CIMB, and Bank Islam Go from Bank Islam. From the application, their client can check their balance or easily transfer their money to people for payment transactions.


Other than that, e-wallet is another form of digital payment. People just need to use their mobile phones to scan the QR code at the cashier and the money in the e-wallet will directly be transferred to the shop‟s account.  Not only e-wallet is easy to be used, it also enables social distancing between the sellers and buyers. 




In addition, The Star (2020) reported that Maybank has seen a drastic increase of its MAE e-wallet users.  In addition, people can also pay their uitlity bills by using online payment adding up a fast, cost-effective experience for Malaysian.


Challenges In Using Digital Payment

Well, there are pro’s and cons of using the digital payment as it involve customer’s information that could contribute to the invasion of privacy.  The issues that are usually faced by the user are security and transparency of their account that requires sign up using name and phone number which are considered as confidential information. 


If someone gets this information, they could trace the account.  Moreover, one of the regular security issues is virus that easily sneaks in the smart phones by downloading the infected files or application, and by email.


According to Bogdan-Alexandru (2015) there are several different types of computer viruses designed by individuals to access other information, such as attacking the mobile banking payment system by taking up web browser passwords or any cached operating system information.  This is the issue that we Malaysian faced brought by the hackers or scammers.


The second issue with digital payment in Malaysia is that there are so many options for e-wallet applications, so individuals cannot use all stores with only one application.


There are over 20 e-wallets reportedly available in Malaysia at a quick glance. There are both big and small players in the game like GrabPay, WeChat Pay, Boost, Fave, Sarawak Pay, Kiple, Bayar, Samsung Pay, Lazada wallet, vcash, BigPay, and more where each of them offers its own perks and benefits (Krishnan, 2019). 




It is impossible for people to use all the e-wallets and load money to all e-wallet applications. That will be a waste because once users load the e-wallet, people cannot withdraw or transfer to other e-wallet accounts.


Last but not least, the lack of inequality on the infrastructure allocated for Malaysian as certain people in rural areas and aged people are still not familiar on using this digital payment as they prefer more to pay by cash due to insufficient knowledge on digital technology and exposure regarding on the digital payment.  Poor of internet access also contribute to the digital barriers.


Remedies to the problems

The safest way to secure the user's account from being traced by other people is to use a different password and try to change it every six months for better security. Thus, an efficient authentication software must be introduced.


Bogdan-Alexandru (2015) proposed multiplelayers of authentication that require different security credentials such as PIN, cryptographic key, digital signature, biometrics, etc. to be implemented in order to enhance better security.


The government also provided an e-wallet scheme via Touch N Go e-wallet to encourage people to use e-wallet. The Touch N Go e-Wallet is chosen by the government because it is the largest e-Wallet in the country and it can facilitate transforming Malaysia into a cashless nation.


In order to curb the spreading of COVID-19 and expose rural community on the benefits of digital payment, Smart Village initiative will be introduced not only to encourage and nurture more rural entrepreneurs to sell their goods online.


In spite of that, both the customer and entrepreneur in rural area still need constant guidance, knowledge, exposure and information sharing on using the digital payment for them to be ready to adapt the cashless transaction.




Strategies for Entrepreneurs to be competitive and relevant in the Era of Endemic

Immensely, COVID-19 spread contributed to several changes on customer behaviour, needs and demands, as well as sellers‟ adaptability through promotion of product or services in social media networks such as WhatsApps, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and others. 


According to Muslimin (2020) there are many approaches or options on how the company or merchant will sustain their business in the COVID-19 endemic, there are:


1. Rapidly, embrace changes and be more flexible

It is vital for the businesses and entrepreneurs to adapt and be flexible to the new norms. They have to diversify their businesses operations to online platforms such as selling their product and have extensive marketing tools through e-commerce websites. 


Currently, you can see that most of the shopping centres like Jusco, Mydin, Watsons, Guardians and groceries do have their online platforms or websites in expanding their business to digital marketing.  It is an alternative means for the Malaysians to shop comfortable and cosy at home.  Meeting the needs of customers’ demand, it is time for the conventional business to make a dare movement positively and shift towards business digitalisation where it contributes to lucrative business.


2. Understand your customer’s shift in behaviour

There’s a famous tagline “Customer is always right, customer is king”.  Hence, the businesses and entrepreneurs must be wise and always conscientious on the needs and demands of the customers in facing the new norms of social distancing. Everything must be followed strictly according to the SOP like wearing face mask in any businesses.


According to Sinclair, a PR, social media, digital and experiential communications agency, current sentiment shows that customers‟ behaviour are more likely to be home-based.  There are people that love to purchase online rather than driving and end up in the traffic jam. 


Payment model that is now hype such as digital payment or contactless payment known as e-wallet are widely, popularised used by many online shoppers in buying their goods or services in digital marketing. it is best to cater the society‟s needs for hygienic, fast and convenient transaction.




3. Be bold and seize the opportunity

The Malaysian government is always helping and supporting the businesses and entrepreneurs by giving aids to Micro and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises. (SMEs) This is to ensure that businesses, factory sustain their longevity, safeguard their labours and enhance  economic domestic investment. 


As for the business and entrepreneurs, they must always be quick and action oriented by taking the opportunity offered by the government such as attending to the seminars on how to build your own store in by selling through online.


Besides, they can also join the PENJANA Micros and SMEs E-commerce scheme to expand their businesses operations through digital or e-commerce platforms so as to reach greater customers in the constraints of conventional selling due to the COVID-19. 


Fresh food producers such as farmers from Cameron Highlands, agriculture, fishmongers and fishermen from the East Coast are encouraged to join the scheme so that they can sustain their sales and adapt to the new norm. The participating businesses and entrepreneurs will be receiving seller subsidy, sales support, and on-boarding training by several online agencies that support the government‟s initiative campaign such as Lazada, Shopee, Fave, Zalora and others.


4. Invest in digital technology and build meaningful digital experiences

In setting up business, entrepreneurs must be in trend not thrifty in bringing up the idea yet ready to invest in digital technology, creativity, and movement plan by opening e-commerce platforms such as Lazada and Shopee.


They can also integrate it by utilising social media platforms, connects interactivity with their customers through WhatsApp, Instagram, Telegram, Twitter, YouTube, and others to reach more customers and targeted audiences at at greater height. 


Entrepreneurs must also not forget to create an automated response system on their website and tactful in winning the heart of customers by offering plentiful choices of logistics service providers like Poslaju, Ninjavan, DHL, J & T Express to deliver packages.  It is crucial to ensure the courier service are offering better services by delivering the goods safely on time.




5. Market your product, offering variety of goods by providing affordable price

Successful businesses or entrepreneurs must be smart by selling various products to meet the customer needs and wants, as well as offering affordable price to ensure survival in facing the high cost of living.


Other than that, attract buyers by captivating their eyes through attractive packaging and ensuring their brand loyalty by giving special deals or offer from time to time.


6. Always be open to comment, suggestions, and feedbacks from customers

Bear in mind to treat your buyers good as customer is always right either in selling your products on shop or in online platforms. Customers can give low ratings or poor comments if they are dissatisfied with the product or service offered.


Thus, entrepreneurs should monitor closely on customer‟s comments, suggestions, and feedback either on the online websites, email, or by the social media. The longevity of the business and success of the marketing depends on how well the online business meets their customers changing needs. 


Businesses that listen and adjust their strategies based on customer feedback will improve customer’s satisfaction and enhance the trust, branding and loyalty in buying the products or services.


In the 21st century, it is undeniable technology and innovation of the banking sector nowadays enable people to use the most hygienic and safest way to make payments as well as reducing the spread of COVID-19. 




Thus, the Malaysian have to jump to the band-wagon so that they will not be left out of using digital payment.  It was also “new normal” knowledge to people who used to pay using cash and for people who live in the rural area. 


Hence, from this outcome, they can run the business using the cashless method not only promoting precaution but also can help the government to break the chain of COVID-19. 


Likewise, for consumers or clients buying essential goods by using cashless method like e-wallet may assure prolonging their safety and health purposes. 


It is hope with the knowledge and practice of digital marketing and e-wallet will help the entreprenuers to propel effectively not only on sustaining their business market but also boosting the curves and growth of Malaysian economy enormously. -


Norazlinda Mohammad is a senior Lecturer of Journalism, Communication and Media Studies, College of Computing, Informatics and Media, UiTM Melaka Alor Gajah