Indonesians living in Singapore can soon remit money using cellphones

Foreign workers at City Plaza in Paya Lebar, a popular hang-out for Indonesians working here. Sending money home will soon be as easy as sending a text message for the 180,000 Indonesians living in Singapore. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Foreign workers at City Plaza in Paya Lebar, a popular hang-out for Indonesians working here. Sending money home will soon be as easy as sending a text message for the 180,000 Indonesians living in Singapore. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

Sending money home will soon be as easy as sending a text message for the 180,000 Indonesians living here.

From Sunday, it will be possible to send funds directly to the bank accounts of people living in Indonesia using SingTel's mRemit service, which was first launched for Filipino customers here in September 2012.

The telco has tied up with more than 80 Indonesian banks, including major players such as Bank Danamon, Bank Negara Indonesia and Bank Mandiri.

The service is available on SingTel's mWallet smartphone app, which can also be used by StarHub and M1 subscribers. Those not using smartphones can transfer funds using their mobile phones by sending the word "remit" via SMS to the number 77766. As a launch promotion, fees for mobile remittance transactions to Indonesia will be waived until Aug 31, after which it will cost from $2.40 per remittance.

"With mRemit, customers need not queue for hours at traditional over-the-counter remittance outlets," said Mr Johan Buse, SingTel's vice-president of consumer marketing. "This is particularly useful for workers who have very few days off or work irregular hours."

To get started, customers must visit SingTel's Lucky Plaza or City Plaza shops to set up an mRemit account, as required by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

The mRemit account draws funds from a SingTel-managed mCash digital stored value system, also set up via the mWallet smartphone app.

The stored value system - capped at $999 at any one time - can be topped up using Nets or cash at more than 800 AXS machines, 150 FairPrice Xpress and Cheers outlets, and 80 SingTel retailers islandwide. Senders and recipients will be notified by SMS once transfers are completed, typically within three minutes.

Currently, mRemit only allows fund transfers to the Philippines through a tie-up with Globe Telecom and its remittance service.

However, from this Sunday, Filipino users will also have the option of sending funds directly to bank accounts in about 50 banks in their home country, including BDO Unibank, Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation and Metrobank.

Operations manager Noorita Hanapi, 39, said mRemit will come in handy for her Indonesian helper. "Sometimes we don't have time to bring my helper to remit money," she said. "She can then send money using her phone as she has access to Wi-Fi at home."

IRENE THAM