Singtel Dash payment to be available soon in Japan

Singtel's International Group chief executive Arthur Lang said exchange rates on VIA will be "competitive".
Singtel's International Group chief executive Arthur Lang said exchange rates on VIA will be "competitive".

Singtel Dash users will be able to pay for their purchases in Japan with the telco's mobile wallet in the "very near future", following the addition of mobile payment technology company Netstars to regional payment network VIA.

Users will be able to instantly pay in their local currency, transact conveniently and securely, and enjoy competitive foreign exchange rates in Japan, a Singtel spokesman said yesterday.

Netstars counts convenience store chain FamilyMart, and outlets at Haneda airport and amusement parks among the 100,000 shops in its payment network. It aims to have at least one million stores as part of the network by December next year.

Singtel's International Group chief executive Arthur Lang told a briefing that the exchange rates on VIA will be "competitive".

He said the payment network is a better alternative to using credit cards in Japan as there are fees the banks may charge. He added that the payment process is more transparent for VIA.

Customers can see how much they are paying in local and foreign currency for their purchases on Dash, which can be topped up with cash, or by card or bank transfer, before they approve of the transaction.

Netstars chief executive Tsuyoshi Ri said the tie-up will make it more convenient for both customers and stores in Japan as the country moves towards a cashless society.

Spearheaded by Singtel, VIA is part of Singtel's push to lead the growing but fragmented e-payment market as it looks to develop in new areas.

VIA kicked off with more than 1.6 million merchants in Thailand last October, and is expected to launch in countries such as Indonesia, India and the Philippines.

Mr Lang did not reveal the transaction volume on VIA between Singapore and Thailand since its launch. He said: "We are still ramping up. We want to create that network effect because... we need to focus on merchant points and customer sign-ups."

He added that Singtel has focused on scaling up uses for Dash customers, but the telco is aware it needs both scale and innovation to set itself apart in the competitive e-wallet space. Mr Lang said: "First, (we) need the scale. Then, after that... we have to start thinking about innovative products."

Singtel announced last month that Axiata Digital's mobile wallet Boost Malaysia will join the VIA network. This means users of Dash, Rabbit Line Pay and Boost can pay for their purchases in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Japan at participating merchants' outlets when the services go live.

Japan received about 1.8 million visitors from Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand in 2017.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 19, 2019, with the headline 'Singtel Dash payment to be available soon in Japan'. Print Edition | Subscribe