Touch N Go’s mobile payment system uses QR codes instead of NFC

Touch N Go is easily one of the most used cashless payment systems in the country. With its widespread adoption in toll booths, public transports and selected merchants, it’s really hard to escape using it. And it’s a convenient service…for the most part.

Now, the company has begun beta testing their brand new ‘cashless’ mobile payment system, Touch N Go Wallet. The only problem is that I don’t think they fully grasped what made TNG convenient in the first place. Why? Well, this new mobile system uses QR codes and PIN numbers instead of NFC.

Touch N Go Wallet, as far as we can understand it, is basically integrating TNG and most of its services into your smartphone via an app. Here’s a quick and informative video to help you understand:

Essentially, you have to download the app, register a new account, log in, hit ‘pay’ at the main menu and the smartphone will generate a QR code. Then, get the merchant to scan the code on your phone’s display. Finally, enter your 6-digit PIN to authorise your payment.

I don’t know about you but the whole QR code scanning and PIN number authorisation seems really inconvenient to me. To make matters worse, since it’s a TNG service, you’ll actually have to top-up your Wallet before you can use it. Also, because it uses a QR code for external payments, you also won’t be able to use your phone to pay for tolls or public transport.

Thankfully, you will be able to reload your account via JomPay, online banking, debit/credit cards and TNG Reload PINs. You can reload a minimum of RM10 all the way to a maximum of RM500. Other good news is that you can use the TNG Wallet to pay for services within the app itself. These services include:

Pre-paid Top-Up — (X-Pax/Hotlink/Digi/U-mobile/Altel/Tune Talk/XOX and Merchant Trade)
Pay Utility Bills — (TM Unifi/Celcom/ASTRO)
Entertainment – Buy movie tickets online (MBO)
Travel – Low-cost flight ticket purchase (Airpaz)

You can also use this service to send or receive money ‘instantly’. What I find really silly is that you can’t actually reload your physical TNG card (which, let’s face it, is the card you’ll be using the most) from the application.

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External QR code transactions, meanwhile, will only be available at merchants in Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI) during the beta testing. TNG has even included a nifty little map on their website that lets you see all the participating merchants and their respective locations.

TNG has also rolled out out special promotions and rewards that range from free Grab rides, extra reward points and biweekly reload rewards. To learn more, head here. In addition, the TNG Wallet has a loyalty reward point system for those who use the service more.

Of course, this is all still quite new. It’s so new, in fact, that the website doesn’t even look ready yet. Several hyperlinks bring me to 404 pages and I also can’t subscribe to their newsletter. You can, however, pre-register for this service here.

But what if everything we see here becomes a reality?

Now, I am one of the biggest proponents for cashless solutions. There’s just something so archaic and old-fashioned about cash transactions that I’m just not a big fan of.

That said, cashless payments should also be as convenient as possible. Stuff like Paywave only requires a beep while mobile payments like Samsung Pay authenticate via fingerprint and work with MST and NFC machines, rather than requiring the merchant to scan a QR code on your phone screen.

I don’t know why they didn’t just use the NFC technology built into most modern smartphones. I mean, they are called “touch and go” not “tap-your-screen-scan-a-QR-code-authenticate-with-6-digit-PIN and go” right?

But I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised. This does come from the brilliant minds that brought you the dumb watch you can pay with.

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C’mon TNG, what were you thinking?

Thanks Aizzamil Rushaidir for the tip!