S'pore's Instarem allows users to send money to Malaysia in new real-time payment option

Instarem is the digital cross-border payments arm of Singapore-based fintech firm Nium. PHOTO: INSTAREM

SINGAPORE - Customers of the Singapore cross-border payments firm Instarem can now send money to Malaysia in real time via Malaysian online payment transfer system DuitNow, the company said on Friday (June 17).

DuitNow, a new system that is similar to Singapore's PayNow, sends money instantly to a user's Internet bank account using convenient identifiers such as mobile numbers or identity card or business registration numbers. This is more convenient than using bank account numbers to transfer funds.

DuitNow is supported by the Malaysian national payments network PayNet and participant banks in Malaysia.

"Instarem is one of the first remittance players in Singapore to introduce speedy payments into Malaysia via DuitNow," said the company on Friday.

The service targets Malaysians working in Singapore, who typically send money home through costly bank transfers or money changers.

Instarem's research noted that many Malaysians carry cash across the Causeway to do their banking in Johor to avoid hefty foreign exchange and other money transfer fees.

Mr Michael Minassian, Instarem's Asia Pacific head of consumer business, said the company wants to simplify the process of transferring funds across the border, especially for people who send money home regularly.

"Enabling instant payments for Malaysian ringgit transfers is a very important step in helping our Malaysian users send money to their families without having to worry about anything," he noted.

Instarem is the digital cross-border payments arm of Singapore-based fintech firm Nium, which last year became South-east Asia's first business-to-business payments unicorn - meaning a pre-listing value in excess of US$1 billion (S$1.39 billion). The company processes US$8 billion in payments annually.

The move comes after the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Bank Negara Malaysia announced plans to enable money transfers between PayNow and DuitNow starting from the fourth quarter of this year.

This will allow customers of participating financial institutions to make real-time fund transfers between countries using mobile numbers and QR codes.

MAS has similar plans to link PayNow with India's Unified Payments Interface's real-time payment system and Thailand's PromptPay.

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