DBS, Visa table new overseas payment service

From left: DBS head of cards and unsecured loans Anthony Seow, Visa group country manager for regional South-east Asia Tolan Steele, Visa country manager for Singapore and Brunei Ooi Huey Tyng, DBS head of deposits and secured loans P'ing Lim and DBS
From left: DBS head of cards and unsecured loans Anthony Seow, Visa group country manager for regional South-east Asia Tolan Steele, Visa country manager for Singapore and Brunei Ooi Huey Tyng, DBS head of deposits and secured loans P'ing Lim and DBS head of Singapore consumer banking group Jeremy Soo.PHOTO: DBS

Users of DBS' Visa Debit Card travelling overseas can now spend with foreign currencies in their destinations, without having to fork out additional money for conversion fees.

The new service - touted as the first of its kind in South-east Asia - allows cardholders to use DBS' Multi-Currency Account (MCA) to pre-convert a foreign currency.

This means cardholders will get to pay in the pre-converted foreign currency overseas, without incurring any additional fees. 

"Otherwise, those who prefer to pay overseas in Singapore dollars will have to pay for the dynamic currency conversion charges, typically an extra 7 to 15 per cent of the transaction," said DBS consumer banking head Jeremy Soo yesterday as DBS unveiled the new service.

There are about 800,000 DBS Visa Debit cardholders in Singapore, and around 10 per cent of payments made by them last year were overseas transactions made in Singapore dollars.

UNTAPPED POTENTIAL

Our survey shows that 95 per cent of Singaporean travellers change money into foreign currencies before they travel. But 74 per cent of them will consider changing less foreign cash, and 21 per cent will consider not changing any at all, if there's a debit card that allows them to pay overseas at no charge.

MS OOI HUEY TYNG, Visa's Singapore and Brunei country manager, on demand for cross-border cashless solutions.

Mr Soo said MCA's exchange rate is very favourable and transactions can be done anytime via mobile or Internet banking, which is also more flexible than using money changers.

MCA was rolled out in 2013 and has more than 200,000 account holders now.

These accounts can hold and exchange a basket of 12 major currencies, including Singdollars, but they require a minimum daily balance amount of $3,000 in aggregate. This requirement is waived for users aged 29 and younger.

To use the new DBS Visa Debit card service, the card must be linked to MCA as a primary account.

The service forms the "next leg" of DBS' push for greater use of cashless payment solutions, Mr Soo said, following previous offerings such as digital wallet PayLah - which now has nearly half a million users.

There is also a concentrated push by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to reduce reliance on the use of physical cash payments.

One key thrust on this front is to allow fund transfers with only the recipient's mobile phone number, something that may happen this year, MAS managing director Ravi Menon has said.

However, cross-border cashless solutions are still a largely untapped area. Visa's Singapore and Brunei country manager Ooi Huey Tyng said: "Our survey shows that 95 per cent of Singaporean travellers change money into foreign currencies before they travel.

"But 74 per cent of them will consider changing less foreign cash, and 21 per cent will consider not changing any at all, if there's a debit card that allows them to pay overseas at no charge."

Correction note: This story has been edited for clarity.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 19, 2017, with the headline 'DBS, Visa table new overseas payment service'. Print Edition | Subscribe