Tuesday 06 Jun 2023
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This article first appeared in Wealth, The Edge Malaysia Weekly on May 30, 2022 - June 5, 2022

Sometimes, reality doesn’t turn out according to our expectations. Take digital wallets. Many people didn’t know how they worked when they first came on the market. Yet, e-wallets have become increasingly popular, mainly because people like the convenience they offer when making payments, and features such as being able to easily track your everyday expenses.

The reason for this is simple. You no longer need to carry cold hard cash around to buy stuff and get your change back in coins that you don’t quite know where to keep when you get home. Having a piggy bank is so old school these days. And since each transaction is recorded on the app, you can easily keep track of your expenses, which helps you to stay within budget. That was the selling point in the early days.

Fast forward to today. It has certainly become more convenient to make payments using digital currency stored in e-wallets, especially since the pandemic began. The progress made in the digital space over the past two years has been tremendous. We are increasingly becoming the cashless society we envisaged years ago.

However, when one has several e-wallets, keeping track of monthly expenses can be arduous.

Here’s why. I don’t consider myself a digital native, but I have three apps that function as an e-wallet on my phone. First, there is Touch ’n Go (TNG) that I use for small purchases, usually lunch or dinner at a mall. Next, I have Grab for food delivery and ride-hailing when I need them. Then, there is 1 Utama’s 1Pay that I use mainly to top up credit in my physical 1U card, which I then use to pay for parking.

As I haven’t enabled the payWave function on my debit card nor have I bought the newly introduced enhanced TNG card that is linked to the TNG app, I have to constantly keep track of the balance in my physical TNG card to ensure there is enough credit in it. It is handy when one parks at locations where the ticket machines do not accept cash payments. It is also for tolls when the RFID lane at the toll plaza is not open.

On top of all these, I need to monitor my bank account — my source of cash for my daily expenses — as well as the money in my physical wallet. Although not much, I do keep some hard cash on me for emergencies.

So, it can get messy for someone who is not very good at keeping track of his spending. At least for me, it has become more inconvenient to track my daily expenses nowadays, compared to before the emergence of e-wallets. Today, I have at least five e-wallets and counting. I wouldn’t be surprised if more malls, e-commerce platforms and merchants come up with their own apps to lure our cash with promotions.

If you are a proponent of cryptocurrency and a heavy user of it, you may well end up having 10 e-wallets or more. That’s when tracking your expenses will become a real challenge.

So, welcome to the world of digitalisation and the era of e-wallets. Perhaps, what is most needed today is a platform to help users of multiple e-wallets consolidate all of their spending activities for easy tracking.

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