Thursday, 29 June 2017

PayNow: Send cash with just recipient's mobile phone or identity card number from 10 July 2017

Go cashless with PayNow fund transfers from July 10
By Lee Xin En, The Straits Times, 28 Jun 2017

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 push towards innovation in payments will help address an issue highlighted by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong earlier this year when he said that compared with other countries, Singapore could do more to promote cashless payments, in hawker centres, in 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, he said.

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, 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 which enables customers of 19 banks to transfer funds almost instantly.

The seven participating banks 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 2016. In contrast, over-the-counter cash and cheque transactions have fallen by almost 15 per cent.

Mr Jeremy Soo, head of consumer banking at DBS, said FAST transactions grew 42 per cent last year.

Mr Pranav Seth, head of e-business, business transformation and fintech and innovation group at OCBC Bank, said its PayAnyone electronic service has seen transactions increase fourfold, while payment volumes have shot up tenfold.

"It is a war on cash," he said, adding that PayNow will make digital payments easier in many cases than using cash.

Professor Teo Hock Hai of the School of Computing at the National University of Singapore said a "mobile number is easy to remember and enter, and will facilitate consumer-to-consumer payment and transfers tremendously".

However, he noted that consumer-to-consumer payments make up only a fraction of total volume, and the real challenge will be transactions between merchants and customers.

PayNow will complement e-payment apps, say banks
Fund transfer system that starts on July 10 will make existing methods easier to use
By Yasmine Yahya, Assistant Business Editor, The Straits Times, 29 Jun 2017

The PayNow fund transfer system that goes live on July 10 will not replace existing e-payment apps and methods but make them even easier to use, banks say.

PayNow will allow people to transfer money to one another using just the recipient's mobile or NRIC number. The Association of Banks in Singapore announced it on Tuesday as an important step towards developing a cashless society.

Customers of seven participating banks - DBS Bank, OCBC Bank, United Overseas Bank, HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, Citibank and Maybank - who want to send and receive money through PayNow will have to link their mobile and NRIC numbers to their accounts, either through the bank's website or 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 new system does not mean having to learn a new way of transferring funds, nor that existing fund transfer apps will become obsolete, said the banks.

Take the OCBC Pay Anyone service. An OCBC customer sending money to a friend now has to set a passcode to be shared with the recipient. The friend, who need not be an OCBC account holder, will then have to enter the passcode on his end to "unlock" and receive the funds into his own account.

From July 10, if the friend is registered on PayNow, the OCBC customer will not have to set a passcode any more. "With PayNow integrated with OCBC Pay Anyone, our e-payments will become even more convenient, seamless and ubiquitous, as recipients will now be able to receive payments directly and securely into their bank accounts without having to perform any 'collection'," said Mr Pranav Seth, OCBC's head of e-business, business transformation and fintech and innovation.

United Overseas Bank's UOB Mighty app will also be integrated with PayNow, said Ms Jacquelyn Tan, the bank's Singapore head of personal financial services. "Knowing that electronic fund transfers are one of our most often used features on the app, we have added the PayNow function to UOB Mighty's home screen."

DBS said its PayLah! app will be easier to use. Both senders and receivers must have the app to make a transfer, but under PayNow, only the sender has to have the app.

"PayNow has complementary benefits to DBS PayLah! and makes sending money even easier. Our plans for DBS PayLah! remain unchanged," DBS head of cards and unsecured loans Anthony Seow said.

These include encouraging small cash-based merchants like hawkers, market vendors and neighbourhood shops to adopt DBS PayLah! QR codes as a payment method.

Marketing manager Benson Low, 39, said it is about time that Singapore embraced cashless payments. He said that on a visit to China, he was impressed by how businesses used cashless payments and digital platforms to offer good service.

He said: "I know some friends there. I was very surprised to see them order and pay for food via WeChat, before even setting foot in the restaurant. Upon arrival, the food was ready and once we were finished eating, we could just leave. It was very efficient."

* $10 million in transfers as 500k sign up for PayNow since its launch on July 10
SMS notification added to PayNow service
By Irene Tham, Senior Tech Correspondent, The Straits Times, 23 Aug 2017

More than 500,000 people have registered to use PayNow, a new instant fund-transfer system that does not require users to enter bank account numbers - traditionally a bugbear for those using e-payments.

Since its launch on July 10, more than $10 million has changed hands, according to the latest figures from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

PayNow allows users to transfer money by entering the recipient's mobile phone or NRIC number in any bank's app.

Yesterday, MAS and the Association of Banks in Singapore said the process has been stream- lined further.

Both the sender and recipient will receive an SMS notification when the transfer is complete, removing the need to check bank accounts to ensure the transaction went through.

In banking statements and notifications, a PayNow transaction will also reflect the sender's name instead of a string of numbers, as is the practice for some banks now.

These changes are expected to be rolled out across banks here by the end of next month.

The update comes in the wake of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's National Day Rally speech on Sunday, when he noted that Singapore lags behind other cities in e-payments and other areas of its Smart Nation push. Six in 10 consumer payments here were made in cash or cheque last year, a MAS-commissioned study by consulting firm KPMG Advisory found.

PM Lee added that MAS has been working to promote cashless transactions.

PayNow users such as business owner Lim Jialiang, 27, welcomed the news, saying that people will choose cash if cashless settlements are not as fast.

For instance, Mr Lim received a payment via PayNow two weeks ago in his DBS account from a customer using another bank's app.

"There was no notification. I had to check my bank account to make sure the transfer was made," said Mr Lim, who sells chocolates at the National Design Centre and at pop-up stores.

"The queue might build up and add to delays if I have to check my bank account each time a customer pays via PayNow."

When contacted, a spokesman for DBS said the bank is looking to enable an e-mail and SMS feature by the end of next month to notify recipients of fund transfers made via PayNow.

DBS holds the lion's share of the PayNow market with 320,000 registrations, while OCBC said 200,000 customers have registered. UOB declined to reveal how many of its customers are on PayNow.

There are also plans to make QR codes available for PayNow by year end. The PayNow QR code will allow merchants to accept payments from consumers without having to ask customers for their mobile or NRIC number. Consumers just need to scan the QR code to make payments.

So far, only DBS and OCBC have incorporated a QR code scanner in their PayLah and Pay Anyone banking apps.

Singapore banks to be allowed to operate and invest in digital platforms, e-commerce
By Yasmine Yahya, Assistant Business Editor, The Straits Times, 28 Jun 2017

The next Taobao or Amazon might not come out of a garage or student dormitory, but from Singapore's financial district.

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said yesterday that local banks will soon be allowed to operate or acquire major stakes in digital platforms matching buyers and sellers and businesses involved in the online sale of consumer goods and services.

He told the Association of Banks in Singapore's (ABS) annual dinner that making it easier for banks to conduct or invest in non-financial businesses that are related or complementary to their core financial businesses would help them to compete more effectively with new, non-bank technology players that offer "a seamless transactional experience in the sale as well as payment of consumer goods".

The rule tweak is a significant concession in the regulatory framework separating banks' financial and non-financial businesses that was introduced in 2001 to ensure that banks remain focused on their core businesses and competencies.

However, banks will continue to be barred from entering certain businesses such as property development and the provision of hotel and resort facilities.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) move dovetailed with an ABS announcement yesterday of a new fund transfer system to allow banking customers to send money to one another using just the recipient's mobile or NRIC number.

Customers of seven banks participating in the PayNow service system can register for the service from 8am on July 10.

Mr Heng said these moves will help position Singapore's financial sector for a tech-driven future.

"The advent of mobile apps and e-commerce platforms have disrupted traditional business models and transformed consumer preferences," he noted. "Technology is also transforming financial services and the way banking customers consume these services."

For example, he said, non-financial firms like China's WeChat have created platforms enabling people to not only chat, but also buy and pay for goods and services, including financial products, all within one app.

To help lenders better compete and innovate, Mr Heng said, banks will soon no longer need approval from MAS if they want to conduct or acquire major stakes in digital platforms matching buyers and sellers and businesses that sell consumer goods and services online.

However, such non-financial businesses should be limited to just 10 per cent of a bank's capital funds.

Full details of the proposed new rules will be released in a consultation paper in September.

Responding to the announcement, DBS chief executive Piyush Gupta told The Straits Times: "The logic is compelling.

"With the ubiquity of the smartphone, customers increasingly want banking to be seamlessly integrated into their daily lives.

"In China, for example, ICBC (the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China) has a site that is one of the leading online shopping malls. There are a number of areas where a banking service can be nicely integrated into e-commerce, and we welcome the opportunity to do so."

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