Should travellers use cards or e-wallets?

WHEN it comes to cashless travel, it’s a tussle between plastics and apps. Will you fare better with cards or e-wallets when you’re travelling?
If it’s up to Mastercard Malaysia and Brunei country manager Perry Ong, he’s vouching for an open-loop payment system.

“E-payment propositions work best within an open-loop system that makes international transactions possible. By integrating global interoperability, it fulfils global standards that ensure security and consistency in making payments across multiple platforms (in-store, in-app, online or via mobile) and devices, ” he says.

Credit, debit and prepaid cards that carry payment brand logos such as Mastercard and Visa are examples of the open-loop system. You can use them in merchant locations around the world that accept the respective processing network providers.

E-wallets, on the other hand, is an example of a closed-loop system.

“If you are using an e-wallet, where a majority operate on a closed-loop system in Malaysia, it can only be used at local merchants that register with the service provider, thus, hindering international transactions, ” Ong explains.

Malaysian Association Of Tour And Travel Agents (Matta) president Datuk Tan Kok Liang says travellers should research the types of cashless payment channels available at the destinations they are visiting.

“More often they will be surprised to find that the digital payment facilities they use back home are also used in other countries as well.

“WeChat Pay for example, is available in many destinations that cater to the China market. Tourists should also look at facilities that give them better exchange rates and lower transaction fees, ” Tan says.

Global payment acceptance aside, BigPay group chief executive officer and co-founder Christopher Davison says the future lies in smartphones.

“Smartphones are going to be the money medium of choice, at least for the foreseeable future. Users should make themselves comfortable with their personal finances moving out of a physical branch and being with them at all times, in their pockets, ” he says.

Davison adds that mobile apps can help travellers get better access to fairer services, as well as help them save and grow your money.

“If you’re financially conscious and want the biggest bang for your travel buck, you’ll still want to be tracking your expenses when travelling abroad. This will prevent you from running out of money or stressing about whether you can afford something or not, ” he offers.