ABS unveils new funds transfer facility PayNow which requires only cellphone or identity card number

Customers of seven participating banks can use PayNow from July 10. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Singapore took another step towards becoming a cashless society on Tuesday (June 27) with the unveiling of a new funds transfer service that requires just the recipient's mobile phone number or identity card number.

PayNow, as it is called, will allow customers of seven participating banks to use the service. It will be up and running from 8am on July 10.

Users will have to link their mobile number and NRIC numbers to their bank accounts either through the bank's internet platform or mobile app.

If you do not register, you will not be able to receive funds, but can still use the service to send money.

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.

Mrs Ong-Ang Ai Boon, director of the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS), said a funds transfer service was increasingly in demand as customers want a "fast, convenient, frictionless, safe, secure" service, and do not want to have to remember bank account numbers.

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"We need to move to the digital world," she noted, adding that the service could be extended to payments for government services, as well expanded regionally.

Mrs Ong said there should be a move towards more digital transactions, as they are more efficient, noting that cash and cheque clearance processes are slower and more expensive.

PayNow rides on FAST, a transfer service launched in 2014 that enables customers of 19 banks to transfer funds almost instantly. Only seven banks opted for PayNow, but Mrs Ong said this was largely due to commercial reasons. The seven make up about 90 per cent of retail transaction volumes.

Ms Jacquelyn Tan, head of personal financial services Singapore at UOB, said its customers have embraced the ease and convenience of FAST, with 92 per cent year-on-year increase in such transactions from 2015 to 2016, while over-the-counter cash and cheque transactions have fallen close to 15 per cent.

"We expect PayNow to accelerate the growth in electronic payments as it removes the need for the recipient to remember and to share his or her bank account number, " she said.

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