Touch ‘n Go has announced that it, together with Maxis and CIMB, are in collaboration to introduce a transaction service that will allow you to use your NFC-enabled smartphones like Touch n’ Go cards. The service is expected to go online in two months’ time.
In addition, Touch n’ Go CEO, Abdul Karim Md Lassim said that the service will be made available to other operators six months after it is launched with Maxis.
While this is not exactly new news – Maxis talked about the same collaboration in March of this year – it’s certainly exciting to see how the service would actually work and if it will appeal to consumers. This is because contactless payment services are not actually new in Malaysia.
In addition to Touch n’ Go, we have the Visa Wave and Mastercard PayPass services that use the same NFC technology. In fact, payment via NFC-enabled phone was pioneered by Maxis with its FasTap service that was introduced way back in 2009, but we can see that these services are not really gaining much traction here.
We understand that through the service, CIMB account holders will be able to reload their devices using funds available in their bank account but beyond that not much detail has been revealed.
On the surface of it, when the service goes online, NFC-equipped smartphones will work much like Touch n’ Go cards to day but when you look at it in more detail, there a number of questions that needs to be answered. Like which NFC smartphones would be compatible with this service?
While you would think that all NFC smartphones have essentially the NFC capabilities built in them, they are in actual fact not created equal because when it comes to making transactions, you need a more secure type of NFC protocol and most of the devices in the market right now do not support this protocol.
We don’t know whether Touch n’ Go, Maxis and CIMB have found a way to bypass this but chances are you might have to get a new phone to use the service.
In addition, to make this upcoming service popular, the three companies (Touch n Go especially) will have to make the Touch n Go NFC panels ubiquitous. This means the panels must be available in more places than just at toll booths, LRT stations, in busses and at parking entrances.
The Touch n’ Go panels should be everywhere to 1) create awareness to the consumer on the availability of the service and 2) to give subscribers to service value and convenience because they can use their NFC phone to make payments almost anywhere.
There’s also the question of payment, does the service require a CIMB account or is it possible to top up the NFC phones just like you would your Touch n’ Go cards at 7-Elevens and petrol stations?
We don’t know but we’re pretty sure that the people at Touch n’ Go, Maxis and CIMB have thought about all these things and how to solve them to make the upcoming service as easy to adopt and as appealing to consumers as possible.
In any case, we’re just happy that the three parties will be offering the service as an option to the consumer. Kudos to them for pioneering this.