Welcome to Malaysians on Malaysia: our quarterly report on Malaysian consumer confidence, featuring essential insights into confidence, behaviour, our COVID-19 response, e-wallet, tech and esports trends in Malaysia. This Q1’21, confidence in MCO 2.0 (second Movement Control Order) in Malaysia recorded improvements across indices.
As we continue to brave through the COVID-19 pandemic as a nation, our Malaysians on Malaysia study gives us a glimpse of the trends and sentiments during this period – this time focusing on how consumer confidence in MCO 2.0 see a rebound. Our previous coverage on Malaysian consumer confidence for 4Q 2020 can be found here. This is the fifth quarter of our coverage of Malaysian Sentiments incorporating elements and impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s hard to believe that its been slightly over a year since that we’ve been living and adapting in this new environment with the virus amongst us, and it has definitely brought about fundamental changes in the way we Malaysians live, work, play, consume.
Malaysia in MCO 2.0 and COVID-19 Vaccine on the Horizon
We started the first quarter of year 2021 with the Government placing Malaysia on another Movement Control Order (MCO 2.0) in our continual fight to curb the spread of the virus. Despite Malaysia being in this lockdown, our Malaysian Confidence Index (MYCI) recorded an uplift – due in part to the fact that businesses can still operate, and people can still work and earn a living during this period.
Coupled with that, news about the availability of COVID-19 vaccine in Malaysia helps to further boost Malaysians’ sentiments, outlook and confidence in MCO 2.0.
A large majority (75%) of Malaysians have already registered for the vaccine suggesting strong support and desire to end the virus stranglehold on our lives, despite reservations and concern for the vaccine in some segments of the population.
Malaysians Regain Optimism for the Future
With most businesses still able to operate during this period, Malaysians are optimistic that their current state of financial well-being will not be impacted as badly as before during this MCO 2.0. There is much hope too that they will be better off in the coming near future as well, as it feels like we are regaining some semblance of normalcy.
Confidence in the Malaysian Economy Grow
With everything that’s been going on, and the fact that people continue to be out and about tending to their labours and tasks, it’s a good sign that the country’s economy will prevail. This is reflected in regained positivity in indices towards the state of the Malaysian economy.
E-wallet Usage Continues its Uptrend
Since 2017, we have been observing that Malaysia has steadily moved towards implementation and adoption of e-wallets as an alternative payment method in purchases and transactions. And we see that this has also been supported through various schemes and programs by the Malaysian Government. It has always been our narrative that e-wallets are here to stay and will become more and more mainstream as a payment option going forwards.
This quarter, despite the absence of any Government program, we see a rise in e-wallet usage across urban Malaysia, continuing its uptrend of adoption rate – with two thirds of the population now actively performing payments using some form of e-wallet that is available in the market.
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Despite some key market centres (namely Penang, Johor, Selangor and WP KL) are going through another round of lockdown in the beginning of Q1’2021 (MCO 2.0), Malaysians are seen to be more positive about the situation this round as MYCI record an index of 114 – the highest score by far since Q1’2020 (which is also when MCO 1.0 took place).
Unlike MCO 1.0 where only essential services are allowed to operate, with MCO 2.0, most businesses are still allowed to operate but with limitation on number of people going into office.
During the lockdown, news regarding the availability of COVID-19 vaccine also helped to boost Malaysians’ confidence in MCO 2.0.
As businesses are still able to operate during this phase, Malaysians are feeling positive about their financial well-being will not be affected badly compared to during MCO 1.0. Similar pattern is seen across income groups as well.
This positivity is also driving positive sentiments for their financial well-being in the near future as well, which is more pronounced with the T20 segment.
The index of spending on major purchases has been increased continuously and now it has reached above the 100-point mark (101).
As Malaysians are optimistic about their current state of financial well-being, consumers are more willing to spend on major purchases. Despite the overall optimism in spending, the lower M40 groups however is seen to be still holding back on their purchases.
It creates a good sign that Malaysia’s economy is on the way to recovery as people are now able to travel to perform their daily activities, although the index is still below the 100-pt mark. This gain is reflected in all income levels.
With news of the COVID-19 vaccine being available and arriving to Malaysia’s shores, it aims to have 80% of the population vaccinated by mid 2022. Together with current situation of ongoing economic activities in the country, the expectations of life returning to normal bring about confidence in MCO 2.0 that the country’s economy will be in a better place in the near future.
FOCUS: COVID-19 and Its Impact on Malaysia
Majority of the Malaysians are feeling positive towards the availability of COVID-19 vaccine.
Around 60% of the Malaysians are happy that the vaccine is now available with 26% stating ‘Very Happy’ – especially among the Gen Z. However, some 22% of Malaysians are still somewhat apprehensive about the vaccine – and this is more prominent among the Baby Boomers (37%).
By looking into income level, the lower M40 groups are generally happier with the news of the vaccine compared to the higher income groups.
Despite the mixed reactions towards the COVID-19 vaccine, 94% of Malaysians are still saying they are quite willing and are able to get vaccinated – with 52% expressing their reservations towards the side effects that may occur after receiving the vaccine, which are more prominent among Gen Z and T20 groups.
Worth noting here is that there’s a small proportion of Gen X (8%) and Baby Boomers (7%) who are saying their health condition are prohibiting them from being vaccinated.
Inline with the positive vibes towards the vaccine, 75% of Malaysians claimed that they have already registered for the vaccine. Registration rate is higher among Baby Boomers (inline with the Govt. decision to roll-out Phase 2 of the vaccine targeted efforts to senior citizens from April-August).
Gen Z however is seen to be taking a step back with their registration – probably when the govt start to roll-out Phase 3 of the vaccine, only then will this group kick-start their vaccination process.
Despite the high number of registration for the vaccine, only 3% of Malaysians have received their vaccine as of now.
In Q1, activities like online shopping (Shopee, Lazada, FB Live) continue to grow.
With no surprises, the number of both domestic and international travel dropped since the pandemic begun. The rate of domestic travel is lower than the previous quarter as the Government re-implemented MCO 2.0 and inter-State travel is not allowed.
With another lockdown in the beginning of Q1, usage of e-wallet breaks a new record. The usage of e-wallet has increased to its highest at 67% usership.
Depth of usage of e-wallets remain stable with Malaysians using an average of two e-wallets at any one time. Both Gen Z and Gen Y increased about 20% in usage of e-wallet while the Upper-Middle Income and T20 see a growth of close to 30%.
The usage of Touch ‘n Go e-wallet (70%) and GrabPay (17%) declined, while other e-wallet had an increase during this quarter. Boost is one of the Top 3 e-wallet used among Malaysians and it is now 4% ahead of GrabPay.
Razer Pay, FavePay and Shopee Pay have a noticeable increase in usage as well. Shopee Pay in the limelight during Q4’2020 is the Top 6 e-wallet being used (on par with FavePay) now in Q1’2021.
We dove deeper into the e-wallet topic in our recent blog article.
Due the lockdown and tightening movement restrictions, people are not allowed to move around without valid reasons. Hence, convenience of e-wallet creates an increases on usage across different channels. Notable mention goes to Bill Payment and Food Delivery, which saw an obvious increase in e-wallet usage here.
As the pandemic has caused an increase in the usage of technologies, Malaysian’s awareness towards it remain stable. The awareness of Cryptocurrency, Blockchain, FinTech, Esports, Virtual Reality (VR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Augmented Reality (AR) among people only has a slight drop. In terms of familiarities, Malaysians are more familiar with Cryptocurrency apparently compared to the others.
With interest gaining with NFTs (Non-fungible token), this quarter marks the start of our measurement of awareness and familiarity by Malaysians towards this nascent tech.
Generally, 30% of the Malaysians (aged 18 and above) own Cryptocurrency. During Cryptocurrency’s previous peak in the mid 2020, ownership of Cryptocurrency surged to almost 40% and now is maintaining at a rate of 30% ownership.
Bitcoin (BTC) is the most popular Cryptocurrency among Malaysians with the recent record all time highs of trading at US$60,000, followed by Bitcoin Cash. Litecoin (LTC) is more popular in Q1’2021 compared to Ethereum (ETH) which having a lower appeal.
Malaysians on Malaysia cover Malaysians aged 18 and above, M40 and T20 segments, in key cities of Peninsula Malaysia representatively.
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(Featured Image Source: SoyaCincau)