The push for a cashless society will take a big step forward when PayNow Corporate is launched next week, allowing businesses to receive funds directly from local accounts at participating banks, businesses and banks said yesterday.
This means, for instance, that individuals, who have become used to paying one another directly through PayNow on their mobile phones, will have the same convenience when they buy goods and services from businesses or make and receive payments to and from the Government.
Businesses will also be able to make and receive payments to and from each other.
PayNow Corporate, which goes live on Monday, allows the unique entity numbers of firms and government agencies to be linked to their local bank accounts.
This would help reduce the reliance on cash, long a key form of payment by consumers, and cheques, which are still commonly used between businesses.
The move to go cashless is part of the national drive towards a Smart Nation.
With PayNow Corporate, consumers would launch their banks' mobile banking apps or e-payment apps and scan a QR code to pay the company directly from their bank accounts. The cashless transfer is almost instant, and works 24/7. It saves time and cuts costs as cheques take up to two days to clear, and Giro, up to three days.
So far, banks have received an "overwhelming response" from businesses in signing up to the new system, an OCBC Bank spokesman told The Straits Times. Nine in 10 of its new business banking customers have pre-registered for PayNow Corporate since April. The service was announced by the Association of Banks in Singapore in June.
OCBC's head of global transaction banking Melvyn Low said: "Singapore's e-payment journey so far has been focused on the consumer. But for e-payments to become pervasive, the next big step has to come from businesses."
DBS Bank projects about 50,000 small and medium-sized enterprises will sign up for PayNow Corporate by the end of next year.
But many other firms are waiting to see how the system pans out before coming on board. Singapore Business Federation chief executive Ho Meng Kit said businesses want to see if the processes are practical and transaction costs are low.
But firms are optimistic about the advantages of a system like PayNow Corporate, he added.
Among government agencies, the Singapore Land Authority said it would adopt PayNow Corporate, which would be convenient for customers doing over-the-counter transactions, for instance.
General insurer AIG also said it would roll out the service to travel insurance customers for a seamless experience, said chief executive Claudia Salem.
Businesses see the advantages in having instant injections of cash while doing business.
Shalom Movers chief operating officer Gabriel Lam would like the use of cash and cheques minimised. He said: "We normally have to make daily trips to the bank, to queue, to deposit the cash and cheques. Now, we can save that time. "