PayNow to extend to businesses next year

Through PayNow, users of different banks can quickly transfer money to other users using their mobile phone number.
Through PayNow, users of different banks can quickly transfer money to other users using their mobile phone number.PHOTO: MCI

The PayNow system can be used to pay merchants from around the middle of next year.

The announcement was made last night when Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung addressed a dinner to welcome speakers here for the weeklong Singapore Fintech Festival.

Mr Ong, who is also a Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) board member, said the PayNow system, which allows individuals to transfer funds to each other via online or mobile banking using just mobile numbers, will allow businesses to link their Unique Entity Numbers (UENs) to their bank accounts.

This will let them pay each other, or receive payments from customers, through their UENs.

Mr Ong said the MAS will also expedite the application assessment for its fintech regulatory sandbox so that firms can test and launch their innovative solutions faster.

It will also further loosen the regulatory boundaries for sandbox cases where the risks do not outweigh the potential benefits of the solution to consumers, he added.

The MAS launched the sandbox to allow firms to experiment in innovative solutions within a safe and controlled environment.

Mr Ong said the MAS has received more than 30 applications to “play in the sandbox”. “It turns out that about half of these applications did not require the sandbox. Many did not need any regulatory exemption and MAS told them to go ahead and launch their solutions,” he added. “That is really encouraging and a positive reflection of our regulatory framework, because innovation thrives most when enterprising people can commence business easily.”

And the MAS will set nationwide common QR specifications for epayments – the “SGQR” – which will be progressively rolled out across the island, Mr Ong said.

“So when you walk into a shop that accepts QR code payments, you should only see SGQR with all the acceptance marks underneath it. If your payment method is accepted by the merchant, you just need to use your smartphone to scan and pay to that one SGQR.”

Mr Ong said Singapore is also striving for e-payments interconnectivity with other countries. The largest merchant acquirer in Singapore, Nets, will establish a framework to enable cross-border payment linkages with the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). Nets is also working with NPCI to allow Nets payments at all 2.8 million RuPay point-of-sale terminals in India. Conversely, a RuPay customer can use his RuPay card or RuPayenrolled mobile phone to pay at any Nets point in Singapore.

Mr Ong’s announcements come as around 25,000 participants from over 100 countries gathered here yesterday for the start of the Fintech Festival, which is organised by the MAS with the Association of Banks in Singapore and in collaboration with SingEx Holdings.

The three-day Fintech Conference will feature over 160 speakers from central banks and regulatory agencies, financial institutions, venture capital firms and fintech firms

A new feature this year is the Investor Summit or “Deal Day”, which will provide an opportunity for Singapore- based fintech start-ups to access funding from global investors.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 14, 2017, with the headline 'PayNow to extend to businesses next year'. Print Edition | Subscribe