E-wallets are not only changing how we pay for goods and services but have expanded into bringing easier access to customers’ lifestyles, with a range of applications and opportunities to fit everybody’s needs.
Boost is one such e-wallet that has been at the forefront of driving the digital payment agenda in Malaysia. Today, it is the leading lifestyle e-wallet in the country with over 3.8 million users and more than 65,000 merchant touchpoints.
This homegrown e-wallet has revolutionised the way consumers transact on a daily basis. One of the company’s key goals is to solve consumer pain points such as the hassle of paying for parking, bills and utilities, prepaid top-ups, queuing for movie tickets, and buying tickets for public transport.
A less talked about fact is how Boost can be a powerful tool for women’s economic empowerment, particularly from a business perspective, through the e-wallet ecosystem – a combination of consumers as well as merchants.
Following a simple process, merchants can sign up to easily accept payments from Boost users, digitising their cash-based businesses, and even introduce data analytics to better manage their enterprises.
From the early stages of developing its e-wallet as a homegrown brand, one of Boost’s objectives is to help the financial sector’s under-served and unbanked segment step into the digital economy.
While our country boasts a high level of financial inclusivity, in which 92% of the adult population has a bank account, the reality is women still comprise more than half the unbanked population and are still largely under-served by existing financial institutions.
One key driver that led to the decision of being committed to helping the under-served segment is from an anecdote of a makcik selling nasi lemak at a roadside stall in KL Sentral.
During the construction of the MRT, she was forced to shut down. It was suggested she move to a nearby shop lot, but she did not have working capital, no access to credit, and obtaining a bank loan would prove difficult without documentation.
Although there was a happy ending where she found another corner, this story highlighted just one of the many examples of women who are under-served in our country, with no access to financial products from banking institutions.
Looking above and beyond e-wallets, Boost has concrete plans to introduce micro-financing and make it more readily available for hardworking entrepreneurs like the makcik.
As a Boost merchant, she would not just have access to a cashless payment system and funds to expand her business, but more importantly, she would now be part of Boost’s credit scoring system that is easy to access and would give under-served women some form of formal access to a financial system.
Hopefully, micro-financing through Boost will empower, enable and give women the ability to pursue self-employment opportunities, and help existing women-owned micro-enterprises grow and expand.
For women looking to open a business or already running one, adopting a cashless payment option is essential in this day and age to grow. The provision of multiple payment options, especially a cashless one, opens up opportunities for customers to buy more as they are no longer limited to cash in hand.
Another benefit of adopting Boost, for men and women, is personal safety. Petty theft may be avoided as there is less cash in hand. It eliminates robbery in-transit when daily takings are en route to a cash deposit machine or bank.
It also saves money on transaction fees card-based payment providers usually charge, reduces the circulation of counterfeit money, provides real-time data on your transactions, and improves customers’ experience with a convenient, fast and secure payment method.
Women are key decision makers and play a central role in financing the home and community needs. The 2016 Census on Women Owned Businesses by the Malaysian Department of Statistics study showed that women-owned businesses contributed RM39.6bil to the country’s GDP.
Boost hopes to help contribute to this and play an active role in stimulating the digital ecosystem, by accelerating access to financial services for under-served women entrepreneurs.
It will become the entry point into a formal financial system and drive the adoption of digital payments, thus becoming a catalyst to greater economic empowerment and participation, as well as greater asset accumulation among women who are propelling our economy to higher levels.