Paying zakat fitrah has never been easier

The pandemic has paved the way to make an obligatory act of charity more accessible online

by AZALEA AZUAR / Pic by TMR GRAPHIC

IT IS a common practice for every head of a Muslim household to pay zakat fitrah to an amil (a zakat appointee) at a mosque anytime during the month of Ramadhan until the sun rises on the first of Syawal (the first day of Hari Raya Aidilfitri).

This long-established practice of physically paying to an amil, however, has recently been inhibited by ongoing concerns over the spread of Covid-19.

But with every challenge lies an opportunity. In this case, the pandemic has paved the way to make an obligatory act of charity more accessible through the increased adoption of online paying methods.

Not only does this help to minimise movement and interaction in mosques during the pandemic, but it also has a long-term effect of encouraging more Muslims to carry out their ascribed duties in the holy month of Ramadhan and throughout the year.

Now, with just a touch on any smartphone or a click on the mouse, paying zakat has never been easier.

Online Payments

Muslims in Selangor, the Federal Territories (FTs) (Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan), Negri Sembilan, Kedah, Sarawak and Sabah can now pay their zakat through MyEG Services Bhd’s online information and payment platform.

Individuals can access www.myeg.com.my, where they can easily set up their user account to pay zakat, among others. The platform allows users to select their zakat collection centre as payment rates vary in each state.

Users can then utilise the website’s zakat calculator on the amount they are entitled to before making their payment via online banking or credit card. MyEG also has an app available for both Android and iOS users.

Apart from MyEG, state religious departments have also set up their own e-zakat facilities through each state’s official zakat board website.

Upon registration, users can proceed to make payments either through FPX (financial process exchange) or JomPAY — a national initiative supported by banks — to enable online bill payments across Malaysia.

There is no surcharge on the e-zakat platforms, but a minimum of RM10 is needed for the payment. Users are also not required to instal any hardware to access the e-zakat system.

Online banking portals such as Maybank2U, CIMB Clicks and Hong Leong Connect also offer zakat payment options which can be found in the “Pay Bills” section.

Payment via Mobile Phone

Zakat payment can also be made over the phone by calling the zakat board. For example, Muslims residing in Selangor can get in touch with the Lembaga Zakat Selangor (LZS) via its hotline number, which is accessible daily from 9am to 4pm.

The caller would then be guided by the operator on ways to pay zakat.

Apart from dialling in, eligible zakat payers can also make payments using SMS, either through prepaid or postpaid.

Celcom and Maxis users can pay directly through their accounts via postpaid or if they have a prepaid account, the payment would be deducted directly.

The receipts can be downloaded through the telecommunications company’s official websites.

Monthly Salary Deduction

Alternatively, zakat payment can be made through salary payroll deduction. The employer would need to pay at the zakat office on behalf of the employee. Through this method, the employee’s gross pay would be deducted, whereby their net pay is reduced. In turn, the zakat would reduce the employee’s monthly tax deduction.

Post Office and ATMs

Another payment option is at the post office through the zakat payment slip provided at payment counters.

Individuals are required to fill in their details, such as full name, identity card (IC) numbers and amount they are required to pay.

Zakat payments can be made through automated teller machines (ATMs) of selected banks, such as Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd, Public Bank Bhd, OCBC Bank Malaysia Bhd, RHB Bank Bhd and Bank Simpanan Nasional Bhd (BSN).

Payment can also be made over the counter at selected banks such as RHB Islamic Bank Bhd, AmBank (M) Bhd, Bank Pertanian Malaysia Bhd or Agrobank, BSN and Bank Kerjasama Rakyat

Malaysia Bhd or Bank Rakyat. Individuals can also opt to pay directly at the official zakat board branches according to each state.

E-wallets

Axiata Group Bhd’s Boost recently introduced zakat fitrah payment in conjunction with its “Bersama Berkongsi Berkat” Ramadhan campaign which runs until May 12.

Muslim users from Selangor, Kedah, Pahang, Sabah, Negri Sembilan and the FTs can now pay their obligatory zakat through the Boost app.

Users are required to simply tap on the “Zakat” tile on the app’s homepage where they will simply need to key in their name, IC numbers and mobile numbers.

Boost users will then receive a receipt via email which can be used for individual tax rebate purposes upon a successful transaction.

Boost also has an in-app option which allows users to pay zakat harta (property alms) to LZS and PPZ-MAIWP throughout the year. Zakat payment to boards in states like Kedah, Pahang and Negri Sembilan will be made available in May.

The “Bersama Berkongsi Berkat” campaign is meant to bring Muslim-essential features into the e-wallet for those observing the fasting month. Other features include the in-app “Prayer Time” section.

Boost CEO Mohd Khailril Abdullah said the app provides the general public with tools to help them adjust and be familiar with the new normal, as more people are open to contactless technology and online experience.

“Since Ramadhan Bazaars and Tarawih prayers at mosques are allowed at a limited capacity this year, we want to ensure the wellbeing of Malaysians are still in check with value-added contactless solutions.

“Hence, we are re-introducing key offerings and increasing collaborations with various partners as part of a collective effort to enable Muslims to conveniently practise their religious faith and obligations safely this holy month,” he said.

Meanwhile, Islamic financial technology start-up Tulus Digital Sdn Bhd has developed the Thus Tulus app to make zakat, wakaf and infaq payment services easier for Muslim users wherever and whenever they are.

Tulus Digital will provide a special payment channel for zakat fitrah payments for FTs and eight states, namely Negri Sembilan, Sabah, Sarawak, Johor, Pulau Pinang, Terengganu, Kelantan and Perlis.

The app has also partnered Touch ‘n Go eWallet and Ikhlas.com to diversify the zakat payment channels.

Moving forward, Tulus Digital plans to expand its app services to include other payments and Islamic observances, says Mohd Daud (Pic source: Twitter)

Tulus Digital executive chairman Datuk Dr Mohd Daud Bakar said the company is optimistic in helping between 800,000 and a million Muslims pay their zakat obligations in Ramadhan this year.

“Moving forward, we plan to expand our app services to include other payments and Islamic observances such as korban, aqiqah, khairat, takaful and others,” he said.

The Tulus mobile app is available for download from the Google Play Store and Apple iOS Store, and zakat payment can be made online in all states via https://tulus.app.

Mobile users can opt to download Tulus Digital’s other app, SnapNPay, where payment for zakat fitrah can also be made.