Five major banks go the way of Apple Pay

Singapore has the infrastructure and conditions for Apple Pay to take off in ways not possible elsewhere, says Mr Khoo.
Singapore has the infrastructure and conditions for Apple Pay to take off in ways not possible elsewhere, says Mr Khoo.

The conditions are ripe for Singapore to become a truly cashless society, especially with the introduction of the Apple Pay e-wallet system here, said a leading bank executive.

Five major banks in Singapore have signed up to the Apple Pay system, allowing credit and debit card users to tap and pay - or make a contactless payment - with their mobile devices now.

Mr Dennis Khoo, United Overseas Bank's (UOB) head of personal financial services in Singapore, told The Straits Times yesterday that Singapore has several characteristics that will send the take-up of Apple Pay soaring.

"It's very small, and due to that fact, terminals are available everywhere with 15,000 contactless locations in Singapore, and one out of every four transactions is contactless."

Coupled with the fact that most consumers own a smartphone here, Singapore has the infrastructure and conditions for Apple Pay to take off in ways not possible elsewhere, he noted.

UOB decided to accelerate its adoption by lifting a $100 transaction limit for mobile contactless payments for its terminals. It now follows the card limit instead, for a mobile contactless transaction.

The bank said 2,000 terminals so far have had this $100 limit removed, and all 10,000 terminals will be ready by the end of next year.

This comes on the back of Apple Pay, seen to be more secure as fingerprints are used to authenticate a transaction.

UOB has reported a more than 100 per cent increase in contactless spending on all UOB cards for the 12 months to March 31, compared with the same period last year.

It expects contactless payments from cards to grow by 80 per cent in 2017 from 2016, which Mr Khoo said was a conservative estimate.

It also expects that at least one in five UOB transactions will be a mobile contactless payment by 2020, and that 50 per cent of all UOB transactions will be contactless.

"Apple Pay will encourage contactless transactions to grow significantly because the experience is pleasant and much easier than pulling out the card from your wallet.

"Singapore is also unique as people have a lot of cards, so having them on the phone makes it easy to choose the right card and pay.

"This and other things, like UOB's e-wallet for Android smartphones, are a big catalyst that will propel things forward."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 26, 2016, with the headline 'Five major banks go the way of Apple Pay'. Print Edition | Subscribe