A fast-track strategy to end Malaysia’s love for crumpled notes

Hong Leong Bank


Bank Negara (Malaysia’s Central Bank) set an ambitious target of increasing e-payment transactions per capita from 44 to 200 transactions by 2020. Despite some progress, Malaysia remains a cash-centric society. Research revealed three persistent barriers to e-payments: platforms were seen as providing a cumbersome user experience, not being secure, and not widely accepting e-payments. Hong Leong Bank (HLB) wanted to address these barriers and make the joy of going cashless a permanent behavioural change among 25-44 year old PMEBs.

What we did

We focused on accelerating e-payments through HLB’s official Digital Day – an annual initiative that encourages cashless transactions - and creating an engagement strategy to help Malaysians end their love affair with crumpled notes. We avoided dry ‘finance-speak'and using social media, search, video, KOLs, community seedings and online content writers, created a pathway to ‘breaking up with cash’ in three phases:

1. Revealing ‘other fish in the sea’. Before Digital Day, we built up anticipation that HLB was offering a wide range of products and services that would reward digital transactions traditionally done offline.

2. Helping them ‘find the right guy’. By partnering with comic artist, Ernest Ng, we added emotional warmth through light-hearted videos and memes. This showed consumers and merchants that there was an alternative ‘significant financial other’ besides cash. We also used popular Radio DJs as social influencers, supported by an army of micro-influencers to build buzz. Lastly, we used multivariate testing to matchmake and cross-sell digital banking products relevant to our audience interests.

3. Acceptance: ‘cashless is right for me‘. We established a multi-level retargeting strategy for all users, in every stage of the funnel by:

  • Tailoring messages and promos to encourage more cashless transactions
  • Cross-selling other digital banking products based on their browsing behaviour
  • Ensuring low interest-rate promotions and cashbacks to encourage card usage



Millennials reached


Total web visits


Converted from cash to cashless


Increase in cashless sales


YouGov buzz score


Video views