UOB app enables customers to tap mobile phones for payments

With the UOB Mighty, customers can now make contactless payments with their smartphones at the point of sale, whether it is in a supermarket, coffee shop or at a petrol station.
With the UOB Mighty, customers can now make contactless payments with their smartphones at the point of sale, whether it is in a supermarket, coffee shop or at a petrol station. PHOTO: UNITED OVERSEAS BANK
With the UOB Mighty, customers can now make contactless payments with their smartphones at the point of sale, whether it is in a supermarket, coffee shop or at a petrol station.
With the UOB Mighty, customers can now make contactless payments with their smartphones at the point of sale, whether it is in a supermarket, coffee shop or at a petrol station.PHOTO: UNITED OVERSEAS BANK

SINGAPORE - United Overseas Bank has launched a new mobile app that allows customers to turn their mobile phones into electronic wallets that can be used to make contactless payments.

It is the first such offering by a bank outside the United States.

For example, a user who wants to pay for an item in a shop with his UOB Visa credit or debit card will no longer need to flash the actual plastic. He can simply select the 'Pay' function on the UOB Mighty app, enter a PIN and tap against the payment terminal to complete the transaction.

The process is safer than paying with a physical credit or debit card, said UOB's head of personal financial services in Singapore, Mr Dennis Khoo.

"When you use a normal card, the actual 16-digit number on your plastic is being used to complete the transaction. The Mighty app does not use these 16 digits. It generates a different number, which is encrypted, so even if someone gets hold of that number, they can't use it to make payments without your phone."

And if the customer's phone is lost or stolen, it would still not be possible to make payments using the app without the PIN.

"So in fact it is safer than losing your wallet and credit card - the moment someone takes your card they can start using it to buy things," Mr Khoo noted.

Because of the security features embedded into the app, there is no limit set on the transaction amount that users can make, other than their own credit or debit card limit.

For the time being, only Android smartphones can make use of the contactless payment function, but UOB will make an announcement regarding iPhone s soon, Mr Khoo said.

The pay service will be enabled for MasterCard cardmembers in early 2016.

In the meantime, both Android smartphone and iPhone users can use the Mighty app to perform daily banking transactions, such as paying bills and transferring funds, on the go.

The app also has dining features, which enable the user to receive recommendations on and make bookings at restaurants based on cuisine and location.

UOB has been encouraging customers to switch from its older banking app to the Mighty app in the past couple of weeks and has already seen an average of 5,500 unique downloads a day since.