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A Cheaper Way for Malaysians to do Steam Transactions

No more costly transactions just so you can get your money into your Steam account

08 Mar 2017
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 This blog post is no longer relevant since I found something that have finally enabled me to use my Debit card for purchases in Steam. Read more here. I would still recommend you to read this post to understand the situation I was in, in case it is the exact or almost the same as yours.
 Unfortunately, as of 12th August 2018, Entropay no longer provide their services to residents outside of the European Economic Area. Stupid move by VISA to be honest, but welp. This blog post may still be relevant if you found a new virtual card provider
 As of the writing of this new notice on August 2019, you may resort to Bigpay for the virtual card. The steps provided here in this post is still relevant, just that the steps may differ being that Bigpay is a different (competitor) to Entropay. A new blog entry on the topic of this may be written soon. Oh, and Entropay "has ceased providing its services on 1 July 2019 ". It looks like the GDPR may be the cause of the shutdown, but I don't know as this is merely a guess.

Transferring money into your Steam account has been such a real hassle recently, especially for youths who do not own credit/debit cards. This is an issue as a result from the act of two different entities acting manly and disagreeing with users’ needs.

Issue with Steam

Steam, with its introduction of the RM currency in its store, has effectively removed 2 payment methods for a person to fund their steam wallet. Although the currency introduction is useful because games will be priced more logically and accordingly based on the currency, the removal of PayPal and Mol however introduces another barrier. Removal of Mol purchase method has effectively limit youths who have no access to credit/debit cards whatsoever (or ability to purchase online if they do have a debit card, thanks to the bank rules). At this point, the removal of PayPal is not a big deal, as the option to pay with Credit/Debit card is still there, which makes no difference in the point of us users (unless you have many funds in your PayPal balance). The reason for the removal of PayPal is rather unknown, maybe Steam wants to cut off some expenses although they already gain so much? cough skins cough. If you do not know, PayPal do charge a small fee for transactions involving PayPal balance (not if it is used as an intermediary for a safe credit/debit card transaction).

Issue with Malaysian Banks!

Around February of 2016, I noticed something fishy when I tried to purchase something on Steam. Apparently my transactions were being rejected by the bank. After trying the same thing for almost 2 weeks, I decided to phone the customer service, angrily

Of course, I don’t want to be a mad man, so the person behind the customer care line was interacted in a respectful manner 😁👍 During the call, she explained that due to a new policy, all banks in Malaysia are required to block any Forex-related transactions. Puzzled, I clarified that I am attempting to do a purchase on Steam, not of any Forex activities. A gap of silence occurred, and after a few seconds, she explained that Steam has been blocked due to security vulnerabilities, and also in dawn of recent hijacks with users’ cards.

When I heard the latter explanation, I felt that the words are stabbing me multiple times and I felt limited! The intention of me signing up for a savings account was so that I could purchase anything online easily without relying on my mother’s debit card. They had already limited me before I turned 18 officially by requiring me to go to a branch with my parents so that I can activate MSOS (Verified by VISA). And then they would want to prevent me from doing something else; makes me feel that this is unfair. I asked her questions, why would the bank block Steam exclusively when there are many other places where hijacking is an issue as well? Why transactions at other places without MSOS can still be successful but not with Steam? She replied (paraphrased, loosely translated) “I’m sorry, sir. I do not know how to answer those questions. I am just obliging with what I am told to”.

Realising that my questions are getting out of hands, I decided to stop the conversation there. I thanked the customer representative and then rated the service provided. A moment later I started searching the internet about the issue I am facing by playing with a number of keywords in Google search. To my surprise I found a Reddit thread talking about the matter, and I came to learn that Maybank wasn’t the only one doing this, thus proofing that the female’s statement from the last call was correct. There’s a catch though, for some of the other banks, they need to call the customer service so that they would allow the transactions. Some won’t block the transactions at all, and some already informed their users when they reached their customer service centres. The thread however ended abrubtly with no one posting their thoughts anymore.

I was unable to buy anything from Steam until one day, Hotlink introduced the “Hotlink Games” where it allows you to purchase Steam wallet keys by using Hotlink credits.

Hotlink Credits as an alternative

Rose as a saviour, however with an obvious issue at hand. The general idea is very helpful and easy to grasp — you buy a Hotlink reload card, and you can use it to get the respective Steam wallet amount.

You pay (RM) Steam wallet (RM) Extra expense (RM)
10 8 2
20 16 4
30 24 6
60 48 12
100 80 20

Inspect the table above. As you can see for each multiple of RM8 Steam wallet credit, you’ll be paying RM2 more… With simple logic, this shows that if the game or something that you want to buy has a high price tag, then you will be paying more just so that your Steam Wallet balance would be equal to the price of the item that you want to buy.

This is an absolute issue for those who do not have all the blings in their wallets… 😐

The Solution: Use a virtual card 💳

Introducing virtual debit cards! A virtual debit card is essentially what its name implies — a debit card that is virtual and cannot be hold physically by you. If you wish to have a physical one, some of such service providers do offer them (at a cost, of course).

This means you will have the virtual card’s information such as the card number, expiry, etc, to be inserted into Steam’s checkout page. Before you can do that, you will need to add some money to the card itself.

This is by far the most practical alternative to avoid the costly extra expenses you’d have to do if you use Mol Online or Hotlink Games method to top up your Steam Wallet balance. Of course, there will be some extra expenses as well when you use services like these, but after some calculations I made for myself, it is far less compared to the RM2 per RM8 multiple pricing. Which should already intrigue you by now. 😉

The service that I would recommend in this blog post would be EntroPay. It is by far the only service that I found had implemented the “Verified by Visa” and “MasterCard Securecode” security layer. Compared to Neteller, Skrill and SpectroCard, it has the lowest top up fee (4.95%) if you use Credit/Debit card method to top up your virtual card. You can of course search for alternatives online and use them instead of EntroPay. Just make sure to do your calculations first!

Now let’s have a show down 💪

Benefits (and disadvantages) of using a virtual card

(Pro) You are not bound to your bank’s limits imposed on you about which merchant you can have transactions with

For example, Steam itself. Since Steam is blocked if you are trying to have a transaction with your own debit/credit card, this wouldn’t be an issue if you are using a virtual debit card, since the payment processor (service provider) doesn’t impose these limitations on you. You can freely do whatever you want freely and this includes anything else other than Steam

(Pro) Specific to Steam: You can save more when trying to add Steam Wallet balance or buy a game directly!

Let’s do some simple mathematics to define the stance on how this is true. Assuming you are trying to buy a game that costs RM32.

Using Hotlink as a method, you will need to do 2 different transactions so you can finally order the game. RM24 and RM8 Steam Wallet which will give you a total of RM32 Steam Wallet Balance. For RM24 wallet credit, you’ll need to pay RM30, and for RM8 wallet credit, RM10. You will be spending a total of RM40 to get a steam balance of RM32. That’s RM8 extra expenditure.

Using EntroPay, you can do a single transaction to order the game directly instead of buying a wallet balance first and buying the game afterwards (which is inefficient in the first place lol). Let’s assume your EntroPay card has 0 USD balance and you’ll need to chip in RM32 into your card. Let’s also assume that you wish to top-up your virtual card using your actual debit card. Since EntroPay works in USD (United States Dollars) instead of RM, we will need to first convert RM32 into USD. As of writing, 1 USD = 4.46 MYR. Therefore, for RM32 ≈ 7.18 USD. To be safe, because currency changes each hour, let’s chip in 7.30 USD (≈ RM32.54) into your virtual card account. EntroPay imposes 4.95% fee, this will add 0.36 USD (≈ RM1.60) to your ending total. 7.30 USD + 0.36 USD = 7.66 (≈ RM34.15). This means you will be spending a total of RM34.15 to buy a game of RM32. That’s RM2.15 extra expenditure.

Conclusion: Difference between Hotlink vs EntroPay = RM8 - RM2.15 = RM5.85.

(Pro) Acts as a reserved savings account and will help you save when Ringgit’s value falls

Hmm, well, as a Malaysian, I do wish that the Ringgit’s value would strengthen and not fall. Sadly, many issues appear and results in the currency’s instability. When I am writing this, the Ringgit has fallen to RM4.45± per dollar after Trump’s win on America’s election. And before that, it has fallen to RM4.20± from RM3.20± due to political instability in the country.

By cashing your money to another stronger currency, this can aid you in the future if the ringgit falls again, either slightly (because currency changes each hour), or massively.

As an example, if you transferred 1 USD right now when 1 USD equates to RM4.46, if the ringgit loses value slightly in the next week, say 1 USD equates to RM4.56, you will have a profit of 10 cents.

(Pro) Allows you to organise your spendings

Having a separate account for online transactions (or whatever you intend to) helps in organising your spendings if you love to organise things.

(Con) Introduces unnecessary hassle

Having another separate account can be troublesome for most. Having everything in one place is preferrable for most people if you ask them. I mean, who likes having many bank cards in their wallet?

This will also introduce a mild annoyance when it comes to account balance. Once you topped-up your Entropay account and used the money, there will be leftover balance that you will never get to use in the real world. But hey, at least the amount will add up when you top-up later! 😀

(Con) Minimum top-up amount imposition

All virtual debit card service providers impose a minimum value for top-up. In the case of EntroPay, the minimum amount is 5 USD. This imposition will of course forces you to insert 5 USD at minimum even if you want to buy a game which would only cost you around RM10. After buying such game, this is will cause you the same issue mentioned in the paragraph above…

So how to?

Actually everything is pretty straightforward and self explanatory, but I will lay out the methods anyway:

  1. Go to https://www.entropay.com/ and sign up for a new account
  2. Once you have completed the sign up process, log into the service
  3. Here you can directly create a new virtual card and add funds to it, or, you may alternatively add funds to your wallet. Funds in the wallet can be transferred into specific card of wish later.
  4. Once you created a card, and added funds into it, you may now use the card information in Steam’s checkout page. You can also use the card anywhere else.

You may notice that you have a limited account level. To learn more of what this is, you can go to the FAQ

Conclusion

I hope today’s entry will help you save a lot in the journey of playing games (and wasting money on Steam)! The extra costs that I have to bear when I want to buy games have made me feel uneasy since the day the banks block Steam. When I realise of this workaround, it does help me save and also tone down the already many stresses in my life in regards to financial. 🙄 I hope it will do the same to you too. Have a nice day!

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