2 in 3 SMEs likely to go cashless by 2023: OCBC survey

OCBC also said it has received "overwhelming response" from businesses inquiring about PayNow, with nine in 10 new customers having pre-registered for the service since April. PHOTO: MCI

SINGAPORE - Two in three small and medium-sized enterprises in Singapore are likely to go cashless by 2023, according to an OCBC survey which polled 200 such companies.

This move to cashlessness includes doing away with the use of cheques, said OCBC on Friday (Aug 10).

In fact, more than 45 per cent of the respondents said that they are likely to go cashless by as early as 2020, the survey found.

OCBC said: "The nation is likely to hit its targets - perhaps even ahead of schedule."

The goal is for Singapore to be cheque-free by 2025, and to have ATM cash withdrawals at 20 per cent of the transaction value of e-payments by 2020, said Ong Ye Kung, Minister for Education and board member of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, at the recent 45th dinner of the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS).

OCBC said: "The impending launch of PayNow for businesses is integral to meeting these goals."

The bank has received "overwhelming response" from businesses inquiring about PayNow, with nine in 10 customers new to OCBC having pre-registered for the service since April, OCBC said.

In April, the ABS announced that two more banks - Bank of China, and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China - would offer PayNow, bringing the total number of participating banks to nine. PayNow is a peer-to-peer fund transfer service that allows customers of participating banks to instantly send and receive money using just their mobile number or NRIC.

PayNow Corporate, which enables businesses and the Singapore government to instantly pay and receive money using the organisation's Unique Entity Number (UEN), will be available on Aug 13.

Going by OCBC's survey findings, more than 40 per cent of SMEs that have not signed up for PayNow said that they were interested in the service, but were just taking a wait-and-see approach. More than a quarter of these SMEs also said that they feel PayNow would be useful or very useful to their businesses.

Melvyn Low, head of global transaction banking at OCBC, said: "Singapore's e-payments journey so far has been focused on the consumer - providing them with the tools to make e-payments and educating them about the benefits. But for e-payments to become pervasive, the next big step has to come from businesses."

He added: "From the sustained, strong response to PayNow from our customers, we are confident that there will be a significant reduction in cash and cheque use. As banker to one in two SMEs in Singapore, we have a responsibility to make sure that our customers understand how PayNow, and e-payments as a whole, can benefit their business."

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