Malaysia has always been at the forefront of digital adoption amongst consumers, but seemingly lags behind many others when it comes to digitalisation by businesses in the country. However, the pandemic has led to increased digital adoption and strong growth of digital payments in the market.

To find out a bit more, we spoke to Rajendar Dhorkay, Malaysia Country Head for Instarem about the overall industry. Instarem recently launched their mobile app, which will allow users in Malaysia to send money to beneficiaries in over 55+ markets in the world, within minutes.


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In this interview, Rajendar shares his insights into Malaysia’s current digital payments trends, as well as the business outlook for Instarem. The country is becoming a bit of a battleground for digital payments and fintech in general as adoption continues to grow.

Congrats on the launch of the mobile app. What are your goals in terms of adoption and usage?

According to a report by Bain & Company and Facebook, Malaysia ranks one of the top 3 countries in Southeast Asia with the highest percentage of digital consumers at 88% (22 million people). As more consumers and businesses continue to shift to digital, they would still want quick, easy and reliable ways to access their money. That is where Instarem comes in. The launch of the mobile app in Malaysia enables users to send funds effortlessly. Users can access the app with their biometrics and are able to transfer instantly to intended destinations via an intuitive function called Quick Send. The app allows for users in Malaysia to send money to beneficiaries in over 55+ markets in the world, almost instantly, as well as gain faster access to recent transfers in the app dashboard.

Cashless transactions continue to gain traction in Malaysia. According to a consumer survey by Visa, 96% of consumers in Malaysia embrace a multitude of cashless payment methods — cards, contactless card and mobile payments, e-wallets and QR payments. The transition towards digital (and cashless) transactions has been accelerated by the pandemic within the past year. Data by Instarem shows that money transfers have doubled year-on-year globally over the last two years – and the same is true for Malaysia. The country continues to be one of the few Southeast Asian countries taking the lead in this trend. 

How does Instarem differentiate itself from the other players in the Malaysian market?

At Instarem, we are firm believers in fair and transparent overseas money transfers. Sending money abroad via banks and MTOs has been too expensive for too long. We disagree with the unfair margins applied to forex rates and the additional hidden fees that all too often creep in. We’re here to bring clarity to money management for our customers.

Our transparent platform offers cost-effective money transfers, anywhere, anytime, with competitive rates sourced directly from Reuters, and minimal mark-up applied. We offer our customers a full breakdown of every money transfer they make as well.

What are existing challenges – as well as opportunities – that SMEs face when it comes to B2B payments during COVID-19?

Many SMEs in Malaysia are seeing a devasting impact on their revenues due to the pandemic. Many businesses are having customers either postpone business decisions or face cancellations while suppliers face cashflow issues in managing supply chain deliveries on time. This is putting a much tighter squeeze on working capital liquidity and will make borrowing lines even more difficult to obtain as banks worry about the rising risk of credit default. More than ever, SMEs are urgently looking for ways to lower their costs and increase more value for each dollar that they must spend. 

To support our SME clients, Instarem has introduced cross-border transfers with no fee charges and transparent exchange rates that are amongst the best the industry has to offer. Our limit per transaction for transfers between businesses is high at MYR 6M.  

We are also helping our long-term SME clients with special discounts for a limited period to meet their immediate need for reducing costs, as well as rolling out other initiatives that make SME transaction processes seamless. We are in the business of helping SMEs scale during this challenging time, removing payment frictions, and improving process efficiencies for indirect cost savings as well. 

What’s next for Instarem in Malaysia?

Instarem has new product offerings in the pipeline that aim to better service retail consumers and SMEs in Malaysia. The country’s ongoing shift to digital and online channels will help reduce operational costs and improve the responsiveness of local businesses to new market opportunities post-pandemic. This is a key area of focus for us as the Malaysian economy gradually moves into the recovery phase.