Singapore

Only mobile number or NRIC needed for fund transfer option PayNow

Singapore made another step towards becoming a cashless society with a new fund transfer option that requires just a mobile phone number or NRIC number.

The PayNow system, which will start on July 10, will be offered by seven banks.

People who want to receive payments will have to link their mobile and NRIC numbers to their accounts, either on the bank's website or through its mobile app.

One bank account can be linked to one mobile number and one NRIC number, and the sender will be able to see the recipient's name before confirming the transfer.

The move highlights Singapore's push towards innovation in payments.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong earlier this year said that compared with other countries, Singapore has not gone as far as it could in terms of cashless payments in hawker centres and shops and between people.

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat told the annual Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) dinner last night that a Payments Council led by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will be set up.

Its 18 representatives from banks, payment companies, industry associations and businesses will discuss payment strategies and promote solutions.

MAS is also reviewing the regulatory regime for payments, said Mr Heng.

He added that the Government is looking into using PayNow to make payments directly to people's bank accounts using their NRIC numbers.

This would eliminate the need to "update each government agency one-by-one when we change banks. We will just need to link our new bank account to our NRIC via PayNow."

ABS director Ong-Ang Ai Boon stressed the need to "move to the digital world", adding that customers want a "fast, convenient, frictionless, safe and secure" service and do not want to have to remember bank account numbers.

Mrs Ong said digital transactions are more productive and efficient than cash and cheque clearances, which are slower and more costly.

PayNow rides on Fast, a transfer service launched in 2014 that enables customers of 19 banks to transfer funds almost instantly.

The banks offering PayNow are DBS/POSB, OCBC, United Overseas Bank (UOB), Citibank Singapore, HSBC, Maybank, and Standard Chartered Bank. They cover about 90 per cent of retail transaction volume here.

Ms Jacquelyn Tan, head of personal finance services for UOB, said its customers have embraced Fast, with a 92 per cent increase in such transactions from 2015 to last year.

In contrast, over-the-counter cash and cheque transactions fell by almost 15 per cent.

"We expect PayNow to accelerate the growth in electronic payments as it removes the need for the recipient to remember and to share his or her bank account number," she said.

FOR MORE, READ 
THE STRAITS TIMES TODAY

BANKSsmartphonemoney