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Majority of Thais still prefer to use cash over credit cards, Nielsen poll finds

NEARLY 7 in 10 Thais prefer cash to credit cards for daily spending, while Malaysian consumers are among the least confident people in the world about shopping online, a recent survey has found.

Nielsen's "Global Survey of Saving and Investment Strategies", which polled more than 30,000 Internet respondents in 60 countries, found that Malaysians' preferred form of payment was cash (60 per cent), credit card (20 per cent), debit card (14 per cent) and prepaid card (2 per cent).

This preference for cash was even stronger in the Philippines (74 per cent), Thailand (68 per cent) and Vietnam (61 per cent).

"In general, reliance on cash is linked to lower GDP growth in developing economies: Hence increasing reliance on other payment methods is particularly important in these countries in Southeast Asia," said Luca Griseri, head of Nielsen's financial services in Singapore and Malaysia.

"Presently there are many options available for Malaysian consumers who choose to pay without cash, such as contactless technology. However, it is important to understand the barriers and reasons why many consumers in Malaysia prefer cash over credit cards," Griseri said.

When it comes to cyber-safety concerns, more than half of Malaysian respondents (55 per cent) said they were either hesitant or would not shop online and use their payment card details on either a smartphone or tablet device although their personal information is protected.

Consumers in Vietnam (54 per cent). Singapore (51 per cent) and Indonesia (50 per cent) share the same view.

However, consumers in the Philippines (57 per cent) and Thailand (55 per cent) revealed that they felt comfortable shopping online using their payment-card details stored on smart devices.

"In Malaysia, there is an opportunity to increase usage of other financial payment options through education campaigns," Griseri said. "Malaysian consumers have the potential to increase usage of non-cash payment modes by leveraging on the country's extensive usage of smartphones and mobile devices.

"Efforts to decrease reliance on cash needs to involve different agents. Payment providers can educate consumers about the real costs of using cash and about safety and the benefits of using other payment alternatives. The government can educate citizens on using non-cash payment responsibly and contribute to the financial well-being of its citizens.

"Legislation and new technology are equally important and the latest payment cards in Malaysia are already equipped with the more secure EMV technology as compared to the magnetic strip.

"Finally, the involvement of retailers at the point of sale is crucial for consumers to embrace cashless payment alternatives," Griseri said.

Nielsen's information also shows that 42 per cent of Malaysian respondents use one payment card on a regular basis, while 40 per cent use two, and 11 per cent use three. Only 6 per cent of respondents regularly use more than three cards.


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