And you can skip those e-books given out for free or retailed for a price (~US$3-$10) recommending all kind of tricks that soon or later no longer work or simply too much of a hassle to pursue in the first place -- like:-
- opening an etrade stock brokerage account in USA or Hong Kong
- opening a bank account in countries like US, France, Singapore, Thailand etc
- getting a virtual office complete with mail forwarding and Paypal account assistance in those countries
- opening some tricky prepaid card account through a local provider
- use friends or third party service to withdraw money (disallowed by Paypal).
- and the list goes on...
- San Marino
- United Arab Emirates
Getting a credit card, debit, or prepaid card
CREDIT: It's no longer hard to get one or more credit cards in Malaysia today. With so many banks issuing these privileges, many people with a monthly salary above RM1,500 and with a decent credit history can already collect quite a handful of VISA and Mastercards from various banks. Even those with a bad credit history, but an active credit account (like buying a car etc, if you've been eligible in the first place) can still get those cards. If you're jumping from an employment to a self-employment, unless if you have a decent amount of money in the bank, make sure you obtain the cards first because banks don't like to give credit out to self-employed or freelancers. The good thing about these cards are their acceptance by the most merchants throughout the world compared to other cards and depending on the cards issuers, you may also use the 0% interest flexi-payment plan to spread your payments into 6 to 24 months.
DEBIT: If you cannot get a credit card, or refuse to get one, try a debit card. Here, they are normally called VISA electron (a sister to a VISA debit cards issued in US, Canada and Australia). Banks like Bank Simpanan Nasional (BSN Matrix - about three millions in circulation in the country) and Public Bank (PB VISA Electron) offers them. Just open a regular savings account and request for one. The benefits of these cards are your potential to earn money-back (small but something is better than nothing) and an interest in your savings account (if applicable). Just be careful though, as with such an easy access to your money in the bank to be spent on shopping both online and offline, the temptations is as good if not greater than using credit cards. But Public Bank for instance allows you to restrict such free flow of cash from your savings or current account into its debit card, and BSN allows you to put a limit on daily spending for your card. Some online merchants however, especially foreign ones however does not accept these debit cards, which is where Paypal comes handy because it's accepted at over 100,000 online sites worldwide, plus by millions other Paypal users. On the other hands, some offline merchants prefer these debit cards due to its lower fees (under 1%) compared to credit cards (~3% and up).
PREPAID: The third alternative, a growingly popular one lately is Prepaid Mastercard by banks like Ambank (NextG), EON Bank (Impian and MOL Freedom - in partnership with MOL Accessportal Bhd) and Bank Islam (Tourist Friend). Even Tune Money is working to come up with their own Prepaid VISA soon. These can be loaded with cash up to RM10,000 through mail, FPX (bank transfer), MMwallet (mobile money), Pospay (Pos Malaysia) and at respective banks or participating retailers like 7-Eleven & Onepoint/ePay/MrKiosk outlets. Most of these cards carry a nominal annual fee (RM20-40/year but is normally waived if you'd use your card more than 12 times a year). A little setback is the joining/startup fee (RM25-38) but considering you'd be getting benefits like a Personal Accident coverage (if applicable), such fees sound reasonable. The most recent development on using these prepaid cards to receive money is MOL SafePay system that happens to be the closest we have in Malaysia for an online escrow service (at considerably low fee of just RM2 or 2% of transaction amount whichever is higher), which looks promising having been integrated with eBay auction site for Malaysia.
Ready for e-commerce now? So, what do you think about local contenders in custom consumer e-payment solutions like Pospay, MMwallet, and MOL Freedom? Do you use them or do you plan to use them?
[future topic: a review on past, present and future of e-payment systems....]