The usage of digital payment solutions like e-wallets in Southeast Asia exploded in the last few years, even before COVID due to aggressive marketing tactics and greater penetration within merchants and retailers.

One of the major players in the region has been TrueMoney, a leading Southeast Asian fintech company and a subsidiary of Ascend Money. They just launched in Malaysia and announced that they are the official payment provider for all Lotus locations across the country.

TrueMoney, which was founded in 2003, operates in six countries and has the largest agent network with over 88,000 agents. They are a full-fledged fintech brand offering domestical and international money transfer, as well as an e-wallet that offers a variety of new financial solutions such as cashless payments, mobile top-ups, bill payments, international remittances, and many more.

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Malaysia is a relatively saturated, so TrueMoney does have competition in the market. However, being part of Ascend Group, which is a joint venture between The Charoen Pokphand Group (CP Group) and Ant Financial (Alibaba), they do have an advantage over many of the players in the market.

To learn more about this, we spoke to Jessie Chong Hui Yee, Ascend Group’s Country Managing Director for Malaysia. With years running online businesses and a strong background, she is now leading the charge to build up TrueMoney’s network of merchant and users in Malaysia.

Jessie Chong, Ascend Group’s Country Managing Director and Dale Kim, Ascend Money’s Managing Director of International Business

Congrats on the launch of TrueMoney in Malaysia. Could you explain the reasons behind launching here?

The launch in Malaysia is part of Ascend Money’s (which is under the CP Group umbrella) larger corporate strategy to strengthen our partnership with Lotus’s. The expansion to Malaysia is also in line with the Malaysian government’s ongoing efforts to accelerate digital transformation here. I am delighted and look forward to driving this business forward by leveraging my experience as a serial entrepreneur. 

How does TrueMoney plan to differentiate itself from different e-wallets in the market?

The e-wallet space in Malaysia is extremely competitive, with over 50 wallets in the market, hence, it is crucial that we hold on to our very own niche. We have been lucky to have excellent forerunners who have educated the market. With TrueMoney being a leader in financial solutions for over 9 years, we believe that the products and services that we have in our planned pipeline will be enticing to the general population. We are confident in our position as one of the top e-wallets in the market.

One of our key strategies would be to target the appropriate customer segments with the extensive existing cases that we already have. The aim is not to compete in the traditional sense, but to provide customers with what they truly want.

Our long-term goal is to build a one-stop financial services application to create a seamless user experience.

Where do you see the digital payment industry in Malaysia going in the next 12-24 months?

COVID-19 has dramatically changed the average Malaysian user’s payment behaviour in the past 2-3 years. According to Finder, in 2022, about 20% of Malaysian adults had a digital bank account, and the projection sees a steep increment, which estimates that figure to hit 29% by 2022, and 38% by 2026. It’s likely that the digital payment industry in Malaysia will continue to grow steadily in the next 12 to 24 months or even further down the road.

To add to the above, mobile phone and internet usage in Malaysia is one of the highest in the region, and this would also add to the ease of utilizing digital payments amongst the general population. This would ensure that there is very high competition in the digital payments industry in Malaysia, and we are confident that our platform will be competitive enough to thrive in this market as competition breeds innovation.

Another key factor to consider is that the Malaysian government has been actively promoting the use of digital payments, which would also ensure the growth of the e-wallet and digital payment sectors in the next few years.

What is a bigger challenge for a provider like TrueMoney; acquiring merchants or users? And why?

Excellent question. Both acquiring merchants and acquiring users are distinct activities and are significantly challenging.

Merchant acquisition is a hard nut to crack. Externally, we’ve accelerated product development to offer appealing services to our existing and potential users, which is a prerequisite to achieving a win-win with our merchants for the best gain. 

Internally, we’ve been on the go to optimize merchant onboarding efficiencies and have been investing the time and resources needed to build and maintain the relationship with the merchants.

On the other hand, we are fully aware of the competition from TrueMoney-like providers, so we are willing to build trust with potential users and focus on user growth, retention, and customer loyalty.

By undertaking strategic partnerships with key merchants and having long-term growth strategies, we are looking to ride the challenges mentioned above.

What is next for TrueMoney in Malaysia?

At True Money, we will always look at what our customers want. In line with that, we will continue to develop and offer products that are relevant to the Malaysian market. 

We have plans in place to onboard a significant number of merchants as well as enter into strategic partnerships to achieve our goals. Two of our key product roadmap items include the launch of international remittances later this year and extending our portfolio to include lending (microloans, BNPL, etc.) in 2024. 

We are confident that True Money will be able to achieve all the goals that we have set and stand tall in this ultra-competitive market.