Singapore consumers are ahead of the curve when it comes to digital payments, at least in comparison to the rest of Asia. In terms of consumer readiness, the island-state leads the pack by a wide margin in electronic payments, while coming in second only to the Philippines in mobile payments. This is the scene right now:
It makes sense, therefore, that companies are flocking to be a part of the transition to digital payments in Singapore. Over the past few months, payment providers, banks and telcos have led the way in providing solutions in this space. Here are some of the latest digital payment solutions in Singapore that have emerged thus far.
MasterCard is a household name when it comes to credit cards, electronic and online payments. With the launch of MasterPass, they’re looking to make online payments in Singapore even simpler than they were before.
Previously, in order to make payments online with MasterCard, a person must enter his or her shipping and card information to complete the process at merchant sites. MasterPass now acts as a digital wallet that securely stores payment details such as credit and debit card information, billing addresses, and so on in the cloud. All the eshopper needs to do is click on “Buy With MasterPass” as the checkout option.
“Singapore is already an evolved market for digital payments, and we continue to see great potential for ecommerce growth,” says Julienne Loh, general manager of MasterCard Singapore.
MasterPass was first launched in February 2013, and Singapore is the first in Southeast Asia to get to try it out. Already several online merchants have started accepting MasterPass, such as Luxola, Shaw Theatres, Singapore Airlines, and Singapore Airlines KrisShop Online. These merchants will undoubtedly be the first of many in Asia who will join the other 40,000 merchants around the world who currently accept the option to make online payments with MasterPass.
Several payment technology providers, such as AsiaPay, eNETS, MC Payment, Red Dot Payment, and WireCard have also come on board and made MasterPass available for all their merchants.
“The growth in ecommerce means that consumers are constantly on the lookout for simpler but no less secure shopping experiences,” points out Ang Sok Hong, senior vice president of sales at NETS.
Shoppers can expect MasterPass to work with other emerging technologies in the future, such as NFC and QR codes for in-store purchases. MasterPass will also be looking to add other value-added services like real-time alerts, account balances, purchase history, loyalty programs, as well as offers and experiences.
“Beyond a platform that hosts digital wallets, MasterPass will also provide the technology for merchants to offer new and innovative services and features for shoppers,” explains Loh. “More importantly, its relevance to consumers by enabling seamless payment experiences will go beyond the online shopping world to even point-of-sale payments. With the convergence of technology and digital payments, every device will become a payment device.”
If you’re like me, you probably have an entire suite of apps catered to various money-related functions such as mobile payments, mobile banking, and mobile shopping. Dash, the brainchild of SingTel and Standard Chartered Bank, is a mobile money service that wants to combine all these services into a single app.
“By bringing together players in the banking, telecommunications and retail sectors [within Dash], we are able to deliver a differentiating experience for consumers in terms of convenience, ease of use and accessibility,” says Allen Lew, CEO of Singtel’s Group Digital Life.
To be more specific, Dash offers solutions to help customers access, save or borrow money, make payments, and purchase insurance – all through their smartphone. When it comes to payments, users of the app are able to download cash from a savings account straight into their mobile phones to pay friends and businesses. The transfer can then be made through a simple swipe gesture that mimics handing over actual cash.
Shoppers will also be able to use Dash to make payments at participating merchants, and by the year’s end they will be able to do so at more than 20,000 acceptance points across Singapore. At the moment, they are partnering with the following merchants: 7-Eleven, ACE Insurance, ComfortDelGro Taxi, Food Republic, KFC, Koi Cafe, Pizza Hut, Prime Taxi, SingTel Shop, SMRT Taxi, Sodexo, Spinelli, Watsons, and WingTai Retail.
3. Pay Anyone
Banks are making similar attempts to simplify the process of money transfer via our phones. As we wrote about last month, OCBC now has its Pay Anyone feature available on an iOS app. It provides instant money transfers via Facebook, email, or SMS within Singapore.
Usually, in order to transfer money to another party, you need to know his or her bank account details. Pay Anyone wants to cancel that out completely – now, all you need is the person’s contact information. It’s a simple and elegant solution that is, unfortunately, marred by a few inconveniences in reality.
DBS’s PayLah app takes a different approach that requires more steps to use. After downloading the app, customers must link their mobile numbers with their DBS or POSB bank accounts, and top up the virtual wallet.
The wallet can only take up to S$999, and users will need to use their mobile security tokens during the top-up process for authentication. Once all these are done, users can use the app to transfer money as they please.
While this is certainly a step in the right direction, it is clear that the PayLah app is but a part of a bigger ecosystem that DBS is trying to build, alongside its mBanking and MobilePay apps, the latter of which is a point-of-sale app for merchants to accept payments on-the-go.
(Image credit: Flickr user EP Technology)Editing by Steven Millward