SINGAPORE - Commuters can now simply tap their phones and use their digital ez-link card to pay at MRT stations and on buses, under a new partnership that was launched between the ubiquitous contactless service and global payments giant Mastercard on Thursday (April 28).
Until now, passengers who wished to pay using smartphones needed to either have a SIM card with near-field communication capabilities - if they wanted to use ez-link - or add their bank cards to mobile wallets such as Apple Pay and Google Pay. E-wallet Singtel Dash also offers a mobile payment service for commuting.
The collaboration between EZ-Link and Mastercard - called Pay by Wallet - leverages Mastercard's Pay by Account contactless and e-commerce payments technology.
It allows users of the wallet feature in the EZ-Link app to make online and in-store contactless payments at over 80 million Mastercard merchants worldwide. These include recurring payments for streaming services such as Netflix, Disney+ and Spotify.
EZ-Link Wallet users can activate Pay by Wallet through the EZ-Link app and retrieve their personal details through Singpass during the sign-up process.
They can add the Pay by Wallet digital card to Google Pay if they wish to scan and pay with their phone in transit and at merchants that accept Mastercard. This service is currently available only for Android users, although The Straits Times understands that iOS users will eventually be able to use it too.
iOS users can still use Pay by Wallet for online payments such as those made on e-commerce platforms.
Pay by Wallet users can also get perks such as EZ-Link rewards points when they transact, which they can redeem for benefits from over 200 merchants. They can also access Mastercard's Priceless Specials, a curated list of benefits in areas such as travel and dining.
EZ-Link chief executive Nicholas Lee hopes the partnership will entice more people to use EZ-Link Wallet, which was introduced in 2020 and can be used for payments at local SGQR and overseas Alipay+ acceptance points.
Android and iOS users can also use the wallet to top up their ez-link transit and motoring cards on the go, and receive cashback and reward credits in their accounts when they spend with the wallet.
The EZ-Link app currently has 1.8 million users. There were more than 165,000 activations of its wallet feature as at April 22.
Mr Lee hopes to increase the number of app users to three million by 2024 and EZ-Link Wallet users to half a million by the end of this year.
Ms Huang Jia Li, 50, currently uses her physical bank debit card to pay at retail stores and when she commutes.
“I am a creature of habit and this serves me well, so there is really no incentive to switch to the new digital card service,” said Ms Huang, who works in education.
However, consumer habits have changed significantly over the past two years, with more people preferring to use apps for daily transport.
"We wanted to find a way to move online in a fast and seamless way, as opposed to working with individual merchants on various types of payments. We decided this (partnership with Mastercard) is the best solution here," Mr Lee said at the launch of Pay by Wallet on Thursday.
EZ-Link has also moved into retail over the past decade and the collaboration will help the payments provider stay relevant amid the shift online, said Mr Lee.
The Pay by Wallet service will benefit different users, for instance parents who want to manage their children's spending and those who do not wish to use a debit or credit card directly for contactless payments, he added.
Ms Deborah Heng, Mastercard's country manager for Singapore, said this is the first time the payments giant is powering a digital wallet globally and that e-wallet players are gaining prominence in the digital payments landscape.
"This is an opportunity for us to expand our services and solutions to innovate together with them," she added.