As part of a challenge, I tried going completely cashless for 1 week to see if an average Malaysian can adopt the e-wallet lifestyle. There are indeed several e-wallets of choose from but I decided on sticking with GrabPay as I'd been a long-term user of the Grab app for its e-hailing service. Additionally the amount of merchants that accept payments via GrabPay are quite widespread across Klang Valley. In this article, I will share my experiences throughout the cashless week in categorical segments, to ascertain if a cashless lifestyle is truly viable.
The unique thing about the Grab app is that it has evolved through time to enable users to do many things all in the same app itself. For food delivery, there's GrabFood, which is Grab's very own food delivery service that is quite convenient for those who don't wish to travel outdoors to purchase ready meals.
GrabFood does not accept cash payment so users would need to pair their credit cards to the GrabPay feature in order to enable the cashless payment method.
Once that is done, you can browse GrabFood for a host of restaurants and place an order to your choice of meals and beverages. They will then be prepped, collected and sent to you up until your doorstep.
I ordered a couple of times throughout the cashless week as it is easy and very convenient, especially when it's the rainy season and you don't feel like going outdoors. But that's just the start.
Many cafes and restaurants in Klang Valley are rapidly adding e-wallet payment options for customers. And all you really need to do is to find if they display the GrabPay QR code at the cashier. Paying using the GrabPay app is as easy as opening the app, select "Pay", scan the code and key in the amount. Once that is done, a receipt will be generated by the cashier for your reference.
I had dined in multiple restaurants that accept GrabPay throughout the week and found that the transactions are quite fast and straightforward. And having an e-wallet in your smartphone can actually be a lifesaver, especially when you do forget your actual wallet. Then again, it may come a time when you don't need a physical wallet at all.
Watch a movie
So here's something I am very eager to share. I found this out while planning for a cashless Knives Out movie night (It's a pretty good movie by the way). While researching for the right cinema, I got to know that mmCineplexes has been offering a promotion up until 31 December 2019 where you can exchange GrabRewards points for movie tickets.
Being a long-term Grab app user, I've amassed quite a sum of points over the years and being able to use those points for movie tickets was quite rewarding indeed. Not only that it was a completely cashless movie night out, but I also didn't have to deduct my funds. Redemption of the tickets, however, can only be made via the ticketing counter, so it's best to redeem the tickets early to book your preferred seats. As of the redemption, the tickets are going for 840 points per ticket.
So technically, the more often you use GrabPay, the more points you can amass, which can then be exchanged for a myriad of rewards once you collected enough of it. The key is to pick the right e-wallet that can provide you with the best returns. I personally gravitate to GrabPay as a long-term user as the points can even be exchanged for GrabCar rebates, a service that I often use.
If you are a seasoned Grab app user, do check out the GrabRewards tab a little more often to see if there's something worth your points.
At the start of the challenge, I wasn't completely sure if I can perform my weekly grocery shopping using only my GrabPay e-wallet. Giving this some research, I found that the nearest Tesco hypermarket accepts it.
But take note before checking out that there are may only be certain cashier lanes at Tesco (or any supermarket in that matter), which are equipped with a special scanner. These special scanners can read your unique GrabPay QR code that can be found under the "Pay" feature of the Grab app.
The best way at this point in time is to ask and confirm with the staff if the supermarket accepts e-wallets, and which cashier lane to proceed to when checking out.
The transaction was also a breeze and that shows that it's completely possible to go cashless with groceries but I really do wish at the same time that more supermarkets and hypermarkets would accept e-wallets.
Going back to Grab's popular grassroots, it is technically the main e-hailing service in Malaysia. One can practically go anywhere using Grab today. It can also be cheaper than owning a vehicle if you consider the myriad of stuff you have to pay for. But please don't quote me on that.
Since the beginning of using Grab app, I've always paid via GrabPay exclusively because I never liked the idea of carrying a wad of cash and to physically transact before disembarking. It's a personal pet peeve.
I've never gone back to using cash for any form of e-hailing ever since. I would agree that having an option to pay using cash is really great nonetheless but the key here is that you can really get around without any cash in hand.
And as I travel quite a fair bit for work and I've also been using GrabCar as my preferred transportation service between home and the airport, to and fro.
So is going cashless an actual lifestyle, or a personal preference?
After going through a week with zero cash transactions, I had come to realize that going cashless can be beneficial in a couple of ways.
Personally, I really liked the whole GrabRewards points program, which can be quite rewarding depending on the availability of the rewards. But it's only possible if you use GrabPay because the transactions are all performed digitally, which can then be tracked by Grab and in turn provide you with points. Moreover, it does not matter which merchant you pay to using GrabPay, you will still receive the points - unlike more traditional reward programs such as BonusLink that is heavily reliant on participating merchants.
Secondly, you can minimize bulk to your pockets. I am not saying that wallets are unessential as you still need to carry your MyKad, driving license or other crucial documents. But going cashless means that you don't need to carry as much cash as before and your credit cards can be left safely at home when you don't need them. Minimizing your wallet's contents translates to minimizing damages in case it gets lost or stolen (none of which we want to experience).
Perhaps there is still some stigma surrounding the adoption of a cashless lifestyle but surely, I have only experienced more convenience and actual returns throughout the entire cashless week challenge. The entire ecosystem is practically complete in Malaysia but we would be happy to have more merchants hopping on board to accept e-wallets, especially small eateries, sundry shops, laundry services and etc.
So it boils down to whether you would like to give it a go. There are pre-requisites such as an active credit card and if you qualify, you might just find it rewarding.