Malaysians could Learn From Savvy Aunties On Shopping Hidden Fees

Majority of Malaysians polled have the money persona of Shopping Pro and Financial Controller, showing keen ability to grab deals without going over budget

Malaysians could Learn From Savvy Aunties On Shopping Hidden Fees
Diana Avila, Global Head of Banking and Expansion of Wise.

New research from Wise finds Malaysian respondents remain susceptible to hidden fees and unfair charges when travelling, making purchases overseas, and transferring funds


Kuala Lumpur, 25 August 2022 — There are four money personas found across Malaysia according to new research from Wise, a global technology company building the best way to move money around the world, which uncovered that almost half of Malaysians polled are avid shoppers, or “Shopping Pros”, making up 49% of survey respondents, while budgeting geniuses “Financial Controllers” are 38%.

Hidden fee finders “Aunty Powers” are a smaller group at just 12% of Malaysians surveyed, followed up by value driven buyer “Kopitiam Uncles” representing a mere 1% of respondents.

Businesses Spending More of Technology Budgets on Cybersecurity
Businesses spending higher percentage of technology budgets on cybersecurity, Sophos research reveals

While Shopping Pros and Financial Controllers clearly dominate, Wise’s Don’t Kena Con campaign, which looked to uncover how “wise” Malaysians are with their spending, has determined the majority of Malaysians still have much to learn from Aunty Powers and Kopitiam Uncles on understanding hidden fees and markups while undertaking shopping adventures.

In fact, over one-third (37%) of Malaysian respondents who shop online and spend overseas note they have no idea what the fees and exchange rates are until the transaction is complete. That said, Malaysians show off an impressive understanding of currency exchange, with 60% reporting they know what the mid-market rate is.

Cost-conscious Malaysians and transparency

Aunty Powers and Kopitiam Uncles who seek truth and cost transparency may only make up a small part of the population now, but they’re showing off some influence in Malaysians looking to better understand currency conversions.

More than half (52%) of all Malaysian respondents have the impression that fintech platforms give the best rates when it comes to foreign exchange, although 38% chose money changers.

This may be to their detriment, as half (50%) of Malaysians surveyed want to know if the remittance provider charges a receiving fee or the exchange rate used when receiving money from overseas.

Plus, close to a quarter of respondents (24%) said having the lowest service fee was the second most important thing they expect from a remittance provider.

Given the Aunty Power’s ability to sniff out the prawn behind the rock, many Malaysians still have a lot to learn when it comes to understanding hidden fees, and it’s clear that transparency in fees is something consumers are increasingly looking for.

An earlier independent research commissioned by Wise found that Malaysians had spent RM 10.5 billion in total card fees when shopping overseas from 2015 to 2020 and RM 1.5 billion was paid in transaction fees and hidden exchange rate markups yearly when shopping overseas.

Malaysians are Shopping Pros

When it comes to shopping overseas, the Shopping Pros show off their strategic buying capabilities with strong preferences for digital payment methods. Malaysians surveyed choose to use their credit card (39%), followed by debit cards (22%), multi-currency cards (20%) and cash (20%).

Given how many Malaysians use their credit cards when shopping, it’s encouraging to see that two-thirds (69%) are aware when it comes to shopping in a foreign currency with their credit card, they pay more than just currency conversion fees.

Still, the Financial Controllers are still looking to keep budgets intact and spending on track, as 28% of shoppers noted that whether they are paying the lowest fees is the most important factor of consideration when spending on an international site, and 55% want to know the total cost of the purchase in ringgit.

Lim Paik Wan, Country Manager of Wise Malaysia.

Importantly, to feel more secure when spending money overseas, Malaysian respondents say they want to know they are protected from fraud (40%), the total amount they have spent (37%), and the exact fees they have to pay (15%).

Lim Paik Wan, Malaysia Country Manager, Wise, says: “As international e-commerce and shopping continues to grow in popularity across the country, Malaysians need solutions that will help them navigate hidden fees and provide an easier way to make international purchases.

“We know from our research that transparency and convenience are paramount to Malaysian consumers, which is why we’re proud to offer our multi-currency account and card to anyone who needs a better solution for their spending needs.

“Malaysian shoppers should be able to put their hard earned money toward their purchases, not hidden fees, and we hope they take their financial savvy even further by using Wise.”