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Traders worried about ‘thinner’ profits ahead of DuitNow QR charges

Restaurant operators were among those who had expressed concern over the lifting of the merchant discount rate waiver for DuitNow QR users. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: The lifting of the merchant discount rate (MDR) waiver for DuitNow QR users has left small traders anxious, with many concerned that their already modest profits will shrink even further.

Earlier today, Payments Network Malaysia Sdn Bhd (PayNet) announced that the MDR waiver on vendors accepting payments via the DuitNow QR code platform will be lifted from Nov 1.

The MDR was initially waived to promote the use of QR payments when it was introduced in 2019.

Azam Bakri, a bubur lambuk seller, said he would have no choice but to pass on the additional cost to his customers if the charges were implemented from Nov 1.

“If we still want to use QR codes for payment, we have to charge customers (more). It’s not fair that we have to bear all the costs,” he told FMT at his stall in Puncak Alam, Selangor.

“It’s already challenging to make a decent profit, and if we have to pay a fee (for using QR), our profits will become even lower,” said Azam, who started his small business in 2019.

He added that the implementation of the charges seemed like a step back for the Malaysian economy as all countries were moving towards cashless payments.

Another trader, Rizwan Rohaizad, 32, said the lifting of the MDR waiver would add more pressure to traders who were already facing high operating costs. Rizwan, the owner of two Kopi Saigon outlets, said the transition would also be complicated since most of his customers use the DuitNow QR code scanning service.

“The cost of goods is rising … If this continues, we will switch to cash payments or online transfers as the only available options. We have been given too short a notice, and we must now be prepared for various scenarios. Changing customer behaviour and payment methods will take some time.”

He added that using QR codes for payment helps vendors reduce their cash in hand, which also reduces the risk of theft.

He called on the government to postpone the lifting of the MDR waiver or cancel the move altogether.

Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) is PayNet’s single largest shareholder, with 11 Malaysian financial institutions such as Maybank, CIMB Bank and AmBank, as joint shareholders.

Abdul Latiff Ali Tulkarnain.

Meanwhile in George Town, Penang, Line Clear Nasi Kandar operator Abdul Latiff Ali Tulkarnain said today’s news could not have come at a worse time.

He said while the charges might be a small amount, it would eat into their profits in the long run.

“The price of rice is now RM195 (per 100kg) compared to RM140 before. We want the government to reconsider this (lifting of the waiver) as prices of items are high,” he said.

Riyaaz Syed Ibrahim.

When asked to comment on the issue, Hameediyah Restaurant owner Riyaaz Syed Ibrahim said QR code payments had allowed for direct payments to bank accounts, as opposed to businesses having to bank in cash manually.

“We are too busy to rush out to get spare change and coins … E-wallets have saved us a lot of time,” he told FMT.

“Given the current hardship faced by customers, we will absorb the charge … But we feel the government should not impose this.”