UOB app lets customers pay via smartphones

The new app lets UOB customers make contactless payments with their smartphones at the point of sale.
The new app lets UOB customers make contactless payments with their smartphones at the point of sale.PHOTO: UOB

Bank says process is safe; app on Android phones also has banking, dining features

Left your wallet at home? No problem, if you have a United Overseas Bank (UOB) Visa credit or debit card and an Android smartphone.

The bank has launched a new app, UOB Mighty, which enables customers to turn their Android smartphones into electronic wallets instantly and make contactless payments at home and abroad.

They just have to launch the UOB Mighty app on their phone, select the "Pay" function, enter a PIN and tap the contactless payment terminal to complete the transaction.

The process is not only quick and easy, but it is also more secure than the swiping of plastic, 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," he said.

And if the customer's phone is lost or stolen, it would still not be possible for someone else to make payments using the mobile 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 in the app, there is no limit set on the transaction amount that users can make, other than their own credit or debit card limit.

The transaction limit for contactless payments in Singapore is $100 but this limit is removed when the point-of-sale terminal senses that the UOB Mighty app is being used.

The contactless payment service will be enabled for MasterCard cardmembers early next year.

The bank will "announce something in the near future" for iPhone users, Mr Khoo said.

Meanwhile, all UOB Mighty users, regardless of their type of card or phone, can make use of the app's banking and dining functions.

The banking function enables customers to perform daily banking transactions, pay bills and transfer funds on the go.

Its dining features allow customers to search for and book restaurants, submit reviews and pay with UOB Mighty or a physical UOB credit or debit card.

UOB sees more than 24,000 dining transactions on its cards daily, and the data it can gather through the Mighty app will help it "understand better our customers' dining preferences, enabling us to customise our offers to suit their needs", Mr Khoo said.

For example, if Mighty app users are flocking to a hot new restaurant, the bank will be able to quickly spot the trend and tie up with the eatery for promotions.

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

The older banking app will be decommissioned in the first quarter of next year, to give time for customers to migrate to the new app, Mr Khoo said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2015, with the headline 'UOB app lets customers pay via smartphones'. Print Edition | Subscribe