On Saturday, May 7, 2022, Malaysian iPhone users noticed that Touch ‘n Go (TNG) eWallet was unavailable for download on the Apple App Store. At the time of writing, searching TNG eWallet on my iPhone also yielded no results of the app, even though I already have it downloaded.
When following a direct link to the app, a message pops up, saying “App Not Available,” and “This app is currently not available in your country or region.”
Naturally, netizens are already speculating why the TNG eWallet has suddenly disappeared from the Apple App Store.
Of course, the discourse over it is purely hypothetical, since the company has not released official statements on the occurrence. But here are some of the theories netizens have been cooking up that might actually hold some ground.
Possible reasons why Apple delisted TNG
The new NFC feature?
TNG recently introduced its new, enhanced card, equipped with Near Field Communication (NFC) technology that simplifies card reloads. It’s certainly a step forward for the brand, but some people think it might be the reason why TNG is no longer on the Apple App Store.
A user on Twitter speculated, “Apple won’t allow third-party apps accessing [its] NFC for payments except [for] Apple Pay itself.”
Interestingly, this delisting does come after the recent news of Apple facing antitrust charges in the European Union. Regulators believe Apple is unfairly undercutting companies whose services competed with Apple Pay.
According to the New York Times, the European Commission claims Apple allegedly blocks rival services from gaining access to NFC technology. This way, Apple could easily monopolise the market.
Could they have blocked TNG because of its NFC technology and what the company could do with it in the future (beyond reloading for the enhanced TNG card)? There’s a possibility that TNG might utilise its existing NFC technology framework for its e-wallet transactions too, after all.
Currently, although Apple Pay is enabled in Malaysia, it doesn’t accept Malaysian-issued cards, unlike Samsung Pay, for example. This means low adoption and incentive for locals to use it.
Apple might be laying the foundations for a proper Apple Pay rollout in Malaysia soon, and if so, it might make sense as to why they’re already cutting out the competition before it even materialises.
The GoPinjam financial service?
Another theory that’s been wafting around is that TNG was delisted because of its recently launched GOPinjam service.
GOPinjam is TNG’s digital microloan feature that’s available on the eWallet app. Through this feature, users can borrow a sum anywhere from RM100 to RM10,000.
Another Twitter user brought up the App Store Review Guidelines, which state that “Apps used for financial trading, investing, or money management should be submitted by the financial institution performing such services.” It’s unclear why this would be the case though, since TNG does qualify as a financial institution by definition.
However, digging deeper, the guidelines also state that apps that provide services in highly-regulated fields, including banking and financial services, should be submitted by a legal entity that provides the services, and not by an individual developer.
But again, TNG has been in the financial industry for years, and GoPinjam is a service that is in collaboration with CIMB Bank. Surely, the team would have known of any necessary approvals needed beforehand?
Of course, this is also just speculation until TNG actually releases a full public statement on the matter, if they choose to.
According to a report by Pixalate, a platform that provides real-time fraud protection, more than 220,000 apps were delisted on the Apple App Store in the first half of 2021. Over 59% of these apps lacked privacy policies.
While a quick Google search for TNG’s privacy policies does show that the company has several sites discussing its privacy policies, a user on Facebook mentioned that the eWallet circumvented Apple’s Face ID API by using TNG’s own face recognition algorithm.
Once again, this is pure speculation, and I have not been able to find anything on the subject matter, so it might very well be false. But the user also questions where TNG is storing users’ biometric data.
In point 2 of TNG’s privacy notice from November 2021, the company lists sources from which it may obtain users’ personal information.
The list includes storing “personal information including your particulars, images, and biometrics to establish your identity and background”.
What might happen next…
The ideal situation would be for TNG to quickly resolve the issue with Apple and put its app back on the market. After all, TNG has replied to comments on Facebook claiming that the team is working with Apple on the issue.
This would quickly alleviate the concerns of Apple-TNG users who are wondering about what will happen to their accounts and funds, and TNG can continue offering its services to Apple users like before.
If Apple sets its foot down due to some features of the app, TNG might have to remove those certain features to keep the eWallet listed.
In this case though, Apple-TNG users will not be able to benefit from specific services, and might eventually stop using the app in favour of other similar ones.
For TNG, this would mean that the money spent on developing those features for Apple devices is lost.
While it seems highly unlikely that TNG would just abandon iPhone users, there’s probably a chance that the app would just never appear again on the Apple App Store.
Those who have downloaded it before would still be able to access the app, but it’s unclear whether TNG would be able to continue rolling out updates for Apple users if the app is delisted.
One thing’s for sure though, the company will lose out on any new customers or growth among iOS users.
Especially with the new development of digital banks in Malaysia, this delisting may be throwing a wrench in Malaysia’s digital ecosystem. But of course, it depends on the actual reasoning and outcome of the situation.
As of now, we don’t and can’t know what’s really happening with the TNG eWallet app. Regardless, it’s still not a good sign when stuff like this happens.
If this becomes as big of an issue as it is in Europe, can the government step in? Will other existing and future Malaysian financial apps be affected, and how badly?
- Read other articles we’ve written about Touch ‘n Go here.