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Majlis Perbandaran Sibu

Posters promote the use of Sarawak Pay at Sibu Central Market.
Tarikh : 08 Nov 2020  Sumber Berita: Borneo Post Online (Peter Boon)
 

Posters promote the use of Sarawak Pay at Sibu Central Market.Posters promote the use of Sarawak Pay at Sibu Central Market.

THE use of digital tools and technology has gained traction in recent years following the increased speed of digitalisation worldwide, fuelled by the rapid advancement of Internet-based technology.

Locally, doing business has never been so convenient and easy for hawkers thanks to Sarawak Pay.

Sabtuyah Omar, who operates a drinks stall on the first floor of Sibu Central Market, said these days she needn’t worry about carrying too much cash.

“Payments are done digitally; the process is so fast, convenient, and safe,” the 51-year-old enthused.
 
She noted that younger customers preferred using Sarawak Pay.

“At first I didn’t know how to use this app but my son, Muhammad Yazid, taught me. It’s very user-friendly,” Sabtuyah told thesundaypost.

She admitted she was used to the old way of payments but after using Sarawak Pay for some time, she found it very convenient.

“I only keep enough money for change as there are still customers, especially the older ones, who pay cash for their drinks.”

Fellow stall-holder Suraya Omar echoed Sabtuyah’s view.

The 49-year-old also found using Sarawak Pay very convenient.

“It means hawkers will not have to go to the bank to deposit cash,” she said.

Taman Selera Harmoni Sibu Muslim Traders Association chairman Abdul Taib Rosli said Sarawak Pay allows hawkers at the food court to simplify transactions and give customers payment options.

“It indirectly inculcates the habit of saving among the hawkers.”

Abdul Taib recalled Taman Selera Harmoni hawkers started registering with Sarawak Pay when the e-wallet was introduced, adding that the association helped them to register.

“During the visit by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg in October 2019, I put forward our views to make Taman Selera Harmoni the first food court centre to use Sarawak Pay and expressed our full support for the government’s introduction of Sarawak Pay to hawkers throughout Sarawak.”

He observed that out of 10 customers, two would be using Sarawak Pay. He opined efforts should be made to promote Sarawak Pay so that more people could use it.

(From second left) Tiang and Tiong at the merchandise section of Sibu Central Market.(From second left) Tiang and Tiong at the merchandise section of Sibu Central Market.

According to Abdul Taib, Taman Selera Harmoni has 50 stalls, 45 of which sell food and drinks, while the other five deal in merchandise.

“One hundred per cent of Taman Selera Harmoni hawkers have been registered to use Sarawak Pay with the help of the association.

“We want to ensure all hawkers are well-versed with Sarawak Pay and receive the latest information on the app.

“As the chairman, I’ll continue working to make Taman Selera Harmoni the first food court centre which fully subscribes to Sarawak Pay in Sibu and Sarawak.”

However, he pointed out that Taman Selera Harmoni’s only problem was the lack of WiFi and high-speed Internet facilities to make it easier for hawkers and customers to use the payment app.

He said the association had submitted a proposal to the Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) to look into this issue.

“SMC Market and Petty Traders Standing Committee chairman councillor Albert Tiang supports the proposal and will give priority to Taman Selera Harmoni’s request for facilities similar to those provided by the Sarawak government to Sibu Central Market.”

Cashless lifestyle

Sarawak Pay is the Sarawak government’s Fintech platform that provides the technology and business tools for secure, fast, and convenient mobile wallet and digital payment transactions. It’s one of the strategies to digitise Sarawak’s economy.

Abdul Taib Rosli
Abdul Taib Rosli

Sarawak Pay allows you to keep cash digitally (e-wallet), make payments, transfer money, receive money just like a physical wallet but with more smart functions such as a split bill, request payment from friends, track your transaction history, pay utilities, and local council bills, and so much more.

Sarawak Pay launching

On Sept 16 this year, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg officiated at the launching of Sarawak Pay and WiFi facility at Sibu Central Market.

Abang Johari said with Sarawak Pay, shoppers at the market could make purchases via their smartphones with ease.

He added that Sarawak Pay had recorded a total of 13.789 million transactions worth RM588 million since its introduction in November 2017.

Abang Johari also noted the e-wallet application had registered a total of 443,396 users and 64,254 merchants within the same period.

“The number of registered users shows there are nearly half a million smartphone users in the state, using Sarawak Pay.

“They can use Sarawak Pay to buy belacan (shrimp paste) and kueh (cakes) and shake their smartphones for rewards later on,” he said when launching Sarawak Pay and WiFi facility at Sibu Central Market.

The Chief Minister recalled when the e-wallet application was first introduced, people were sceptical about Sarawak Pay.

“But when Covid-19 hit and everyone was told to stay home, we could see the number of users increasing. Even members of Kampung Buntal Fishermen Association in Kuching started using Sarawak Pay with their customers during the Movement Control Order.”

Mohamad Aznam Shah, a hawker at Taman Selera Harmoni, uses Sarawak Pay.Mohamad Aznam Shah, a hawker at Taman Selera Harmoni, uses Sarawak Pay.

Tiang said SMC and Sarawak Pay are working together to encourage further utilisation of the e-wallet application among hawkers and shoppers at Sibu Central Market.

According to him, of the 1,117 stalls, about 70 per cent have registered with Sarawak Pay.

As such, he is confident all hawkers there will sign up with Sarawak Pay soon.

“We have set up a committee to help the hawkers, especially the elderly ones, on the mechanisms and use of Sarawak Pay,” he said, adding that such familiarisation effort was on-going.

He also observed the high percentage of hawkers signing up with Sarawak Pay at other markets and hawker’s centres under SMC jurisdiction.

Contactless transactions

Abang Johari had suggested Sarawakians go cashless to “minimise contact with physical cash in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19”.

Sarawak Pay central region agent David Tiong, who highlighted the many benefits of using the home-grown e-wallet application, said Sarawak Pay is very safe as there is no physical handling of cash, hence, no physical contact between sellers and buyers in the current Covid-19 situation as the transactions were handled digitally.

Using cross-sectional data on Internet usage and epidemic risk for 180 economies, Jiang & Ryan (2020) has shown countries with wider Internet access and safer Internet servers tend to be more resilient to epidemics such as Covid-19.

They pointed out that countries with wider Internet access and safer Internet servers also tended to have the better infrastructure (energy and transport), stronger governance and human development (health, nutrition and social protection) to cope with pandemics.

(From left) Sabtuyah, Suraya and Muhammad Yazid in front of their shop at Sibu Central Market.(From left) Sabtuyah, Suraya and Muhammad Yazid in front of their shop at Sibu Central Market.

Road ahead

On the joint SMC-Sarawak Pay campaign whereby any purchase of at least RM10 made at any of the 101 participating merchandise stalls on the first floor of the Central Market between Oct 31 and Nov 1 this year, entitles shoppers to redeem a Sarawak Pay recyclable bag, Tiang explained, “The whole intention is to encourage hawkers and shoppers to use Sarawak Pay towards making Sibu Central Market a cashless market.

“On top of that, shoppers who make payments via Sarawak Pay will benefit from cash rebates. There will be different campaigns for other sections of the market.”

Abdul Taib also revealed they are targeting to turn Taman Selera Harmoni into a cashless market in a couple of years.

“That’s why we have suggested to SMC to install WiFi to ensure higher utilisation of Sarawak Pay among hawkers and customers,” he said.