Once, I belatedly realised I didn’t have enough money in my Touch ‘n Go (TNG) card. I stood in front of the LRT station’s pearly gates that beeped at me, telling me the truth I didn’t want to hear.
As a last-ditch effort, I checked my Touch ‘n Go eWallet (TNG eWallet) app, but I already knew it wouldn’t work. In 2018, TNG added a feature whereby users can check their card info on the app, but you still couldn’t transfer money into the card.
The kiosk line was long and I was in a rush, so I ended up forking out cash to buy an individual LRT coin that was 30 sen more expensive than my usual fare. I believe this would be a relatable issue for most users of public transport.
On the other hand, for drivers, being stuck at the toll gates is irritating and much more embarrassing. We’ve all seen the reverse of shame some cars have had to do, while a line of pissed-off drivers makes way for them.
When the leaks of the Enhanced TNG card that can be topped up through your phone first dropped, I imagine most of us were excited. At first, that is.
So, what does it do?
The Enhanced TNG card does address part of the issue users have been having, which is to connect the eWallet with the physical card. But they seem to be doing it in a roundabout sort of way.
By using Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, the new TNG card can be topped up by placing it against your phone for around five seconds. It’s fairly straightforward, but in my opinion, it can be more seamless than that.
Why not just enable us to transfer money into the card in a contactless way? Or, why not just link our eWallet balance with the TNG card, eliminating the need for a separate, physical card balance and the necessity to top up at all?
Netizens are asking why the NFC technology can’t allow us to just use our phones as the TNG card itself. I could see this making more sense for public transport terminals, but maybe not at tolls. More cynical commenters reason that it’s because TNG won’t be able to profit from a new card.
Some netizens also suggested the reason why the new card won’t share the same balance as the eWallet is because the card might have connectivity issues in more rural areas.
For example, if the card requires mobile data or WiFi to draw its funds from the eWallet, weather or other factors that disrupt connectivity could mean that the card becomes momentarily unusable.
It could be argued that retaining a separate physical card balance curbs the danger of a lost/stolen TNG card being used to drain all your eWallet funds. However, this could be easily resolved if a function that allows you to quickly deactivate the card upon realising it’s lost/stolen is implemented in the eWallet.
“Predecessors” of the Enhanced TNG Card
With some digging, we found that TNG actually had something called a Zing card in the 2018 era, which featured an auto-reload function.
To explain briefly, the Zing Card is linked to your bank’s credit card. From a quick Google search, it seems like CIMB Bank, Maybank, and Hong Leong Bank carry it.
Depending on the bank, the card will auto-reload once it falls under a certain amount. But it charges an automatic reload fee (RM1.50 at CIMB, RM2 at Maybank, RM0.50 at Hong Leong Bank) which isn’t very desirable.
CIMB has stopped issuing the Zing Card since last year, though I’m not sure about the other banks.
Also back in 2018, there was another attempt to allow users to top up their cards using the eWallet.
SoyaCincau highlighted the inconveniences of that feature, detailing how you needed to visit Pickup Device locations after you transferred your money. And only two of such locations existed in the country then, mind you. (It goes without saying that the plan quickly failed, and TNG rolled it back.)
The point is that people have been trying to make TNG cards more seamless and efficient for a very long time. Topping up still remains a hassle, even though it’s now being simplified to putting a card against your phone.
I don’t think I’m alone in this opinion when I say TNG should stop releasing these seemingly half-hearted attempts and instead come out with a solid solution that confronts the concern at its core.
TNG hasn’t rolled out the update on the app yet, though the new card can already be purchased for RM10 at the Touch ‘n Go Hub in Nu Sentral Mall. Based on the videos TNG uploaded and took down, it’ll probably be available online as well, with shipping fees.
Based on the current general reception, it doesn’t seem like many Malaysians are too excited about the new card. But I can see it being an option for those whose current TNG cards are already expiring.
I don’t think people are necessarily upset over the RM10 that TNG is charging for the new card. What we’re upset about is not knowing how many more “solutions” TNG might continue pitching to users without addressing our main complaint, and us, the users, having to be the guinea pigs in their ongoing R&D.
Considering how people are still displeased with the Enhanced Touch ‘n Go Card, it might take another round of updates before there’s a card that meets all expectations. This new card is a step in the right direction, but it’s just not one that’s big enough.
Editor’s Update: The update on the app to reload your Enhanced Touch ‘n Go Card card has been rolled out as of April 22, 2022. The new card can be purchased via the app for RM10, with a non-negotiable shipping fee of RM5.
- Read more articles we’ve written on Touch ‘n Go here.