You might have heard that Grab—one of the eWallets identified by the government for the ePemula initiative—is offering RM150 in vouchers instead of credit. It didn’t sit right with us, especially with the other three eWallets offering the RM150 in credit form. After reaching out to Grab about why they went with vouchers, they gave us their own explanation in an official statement—but we’re not entirely convinced.
If you’re unfamiliar with what ePemula is, it’s a Malaysian government initiative “to help promote cashless transactions”. Specifically, RM150 worth of eWallet credit can be claimed if you’re between 18 and 20 years old—or are a full-time university student. You can choose between claiming the RM150 ePemula credit from Touch ‘n Go eWallet, Shopee, BigPay, or Grab. The credit can only be used for offline purchases.
However, while the other three eWallets offer the RM150 in credit form (including additional perks and vouchers), Grab is only exclusively offering the RM150 of ePemula money in small vouchers. According to their terms and conditions, their ePemula “reward” is only “valid with a minimum spend of RM5/RM10/RM15/RM20/RM30”.
This means that with Grab’s “vouchers”, users aren’t able to spend that full RM150 in one offline transaction if they wanted to. Instead, they could only use one small fraction of the RM150 money at a time—there’s no way to stack more than one voucher at once, either. So, if you wanted to buy something for RM22, you are able to use that RM20 ePemula voucher—but you’d have to spend an extra RM2 yourself.
“Since the launch of the GrabPay e-wallet, we have been working alongside like-minded partners and government agencies to grow cashless adoption amongst Malaysians. Parallel to that, we have also been working with them to help businesses to digitalise and embrace the digital economy, which is aligned with the government’s national agenda. Together, we have helped thousands of micro, small and medium-sized businesses transition online and to accept cashless payments as a means to overcome the movement control restrictions. Inline with the essence of ePemula, GrabPay fractionalised the RM150 credit from MOF (Ministry of Finance) to smaller denomination of cash vouchers provide eligible claimants more opportunities to spend prudently while benefiting multiple brick and mortar businesses as they strive to recoup their offline sales whilst still leveraging the benefits of the digital economy,” said Priyanka Madan, Head of GrabPay Malaysia.
Rightfully, users would be able to get a full RM150 for any offline transactions with the eWallet. However users want to spend the money should be up to the users. Fractioning the RM150 credit into small vouchers that you can’t stack restricts a user’s ability to spend the money how they want.
So many users complained online about how they felt “scammed” by the platform after picking Grab as their ePemula eWallet. It was also pretty easy to miss that you’re only getting vouchers on their info page—unless you dig deep and read the terms and conditions. And with Grab working with the government “to help businesses to digitalise and embrace the digital economy”, how did the MOF approve the voucher route? What happens when a user isn’t able to use all those vouchers by their expiry date (10 June)? Will Grab return the unused vouchers back to MOF as cash?
This may also set a bad precedent as other eWallet providers may be equally as sneaky and do the same for future programmes. For example, what would be stopping others from giving RM1 x 150 vouchers in the future? Hopefully, the government would be able to make its stance clear on the matter.
When MOF issued a statement on 31st March, it was clearly stated that eligible youths will receive credit as much as RM150 per person. So, what gives?