The advent of e-payment

Apps and devices the way forward

Pupil Vernice Lim, 11, using her smartwatch at a vending machine to pay for a drink at Admiralty Primary. The watch is part of the POSB Smart Buddy programme, which aims to help students learn how to save and manage their allowances.
Pupil Vernice Lim, 11, using her smartwatch at a vending machine to pay for a drink at Admiralty Primary. The watch is part of the POSB Smart Buddy programme, which aims to help students learn how to save and manage their allowances.ST FILE PHOTO

There are various options for cashless transactions, each with its own benefits

It is just a matter of time before cash and cheques play a diminishing role in our daily lives as e-payments take over more transactions.

Embracing cashless payments and the benefits they bring starts with knowing what is available and understanding how they work.


A QR - quick response - code is a square barcode used for scanning all sorts of data onto smartphones.

DBS Bank's head of cards and unsecured loans, Mr Anthony Seow, believes codes are the ideal payment format for small merchants who cannot justify the cost associated with renting terminals to process e-payments, or for businesses where the environment - perhaps lack of space or excessive moisture - is unsuitable for such equipment.

"It's low-cost to free; there's no payment terminal to set up. All merchants need to do is to download DBS PayLah!, generate their own static QR code and display it at their counter," notes Mr Seow.

"Payment can immediately be transferred into their account, so cash-flow issues are reduced.

"For consumers, it's a relatively easy payment platform to use and access. They simply need an account and a mobile phone to be able to pay via QR code. The payment process is a simple scan-and-pay."

A QR code scanner or reader can be found within bank apps such as DBS' PayLah!, OCBC's Pay Anyone and Mighty Pay from UOB.

  • What they can do

  • The Sunday Times highlights the features of four e-payment services:


    DBS PayLah! is a personal mobile wallet that allows you to perform fund transfers via a mobile number. You can send eAng Baos, request funds from others, ask for payment links, pay bills, donate to charities and more. You can also use it to pay for online purchases securely at selected merchants.

    Mr Anthony Seow, DBS' head of cards and unsecured loans, says the app is ideal for consumers who deal mainly in low-value transactions and payments (say, less than $999 a day), and who prefer to do so outside the Internet banking environment. It is free to use and is available to non-DBS/POSB customers and existing DBS/POSB customers who are at least 16 years old and have a smartphone with a Singapore-registered mobile number.

    Your DBS PayLah! wallet limit and daily transfer limit are each capped at $999 by default. DBS/POSB iBanking users can adjust the limits but this option is not available to non-DBS/POSB iBanking users.

    The available credit balances in your DBS PayLah! wallet do not earn interest.


    Launched in 2014, OCBC Pay Anyone is an e-payment service. An OCBC customer can use it to transfer money directly from his OCBC bank account to any account in Singapore with just the recipient's mobile number, e-mail address or Facebook account. This is different from e-wallets, which require topping up and require recipients to have the same wallet app.

    The OCBC Pay Anyone app, which was introduced in May, consolidates all OCBC Pay Anyone services into a fast and easy one-stop access to e-payments. Customers can use QR codes, mobile or NRIC numbers or even Facebook to pay via OCBC Pay Anyone. QR code payments via the app are frictionless as authentication is seamless, using fingerprints.


    Dash is a telco-driven mobile wallet and available to anyone aged 14 and above. With it, customers can tap and pay for their bus and train rides, as well as check their EZ-link balance and top up on the go. They can take a cab without paying an administrative fee.

    Dash is accepted in major supermarkets and convenience stores like FairPrice and 7-11, and F&B outlets like Food Republic and Toast Box.

    Mr Yuen Kuan Moon, chief executive of Consumer Singapore at Singtel, says it also caters to the under-banked segment of foreign workers here. "Dash gives them access to the Dash Visa Virtual Account instantly as they may not have a local bank account or qualify for credit cards. Through the Singtel Dash app, they can also remit home to the Philippines, Indonesia, China or India from their mobile phone any time."

    Dash has over 500,000 users and more than 50,000 acceptance points. Transaction values rose by over 32 per cent in July.


    UOB introduced UOB Mighty Pay in 2015. Its e-wallet function connects the customer's debit or credit card to his phone. He can pay for goods or services by tapping his Android phone at any of the more than 10,000 contactless point-of-sale terminals here.

    Beyond making payments available through UOB Mighty Pay, UOB also worked with partners like Apple and Google to make it possible for customers to make contactless mobile payments on the e-wallet app of their choice. This could be through Apple Pay, Android Pay or Samsung Pay.

    Taking taxis is also more convenient with QR payments. UOB customers need only access the QR reader within UOB Mighty and scan the QR code to pay.

    Lorna Tan


Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay are examples of mobile contactless platforms.

Consumers can have multiple credit and debit cards loaded into their mobile contactless platform. Samsung Pay, for example, allows up to 10 eligible cards on each device. So there's no need to carry your plastic around. But you still have access to your cards' various privileges and promotions.

However, consumers have to be mindful of whether a merchant's payment device can accept particular NFC transactions.

NFC, or Near Field Communication, detects and enables technology in close proximity to communicate without the need for an Internet connection.


A Peer-to-Peer, or P2P, service is a decentralised platform allowing two individuals to interact directly in the absence of an intermediary or third party.

PayNow is such a system. It makes transferring funds via mobile phone numbers easier for customers here. PayNow has complementary benefits to PayLah! from DBS, OCBC Pay Anyone and UOB Mighty Pay, and makes sending money even easier.

It makes transferring funds convenient as anyone registered with PayNow can receive the money irrespective of whether they have any of the three banking apps.


Wearable contactless payment devices are still relatively in their infancy. Such devices can benefit people who lack access to physical banks or who distrust banks. They are usually very versatile and have multiple uses.

For example, DBS recently launched the POSB Smart Buddy programme in 19 primary schools. This provides a free watch that can perform contactless payments for pupils and parents who have joined the programme.

The watch also doubles as a fitness tracker and can record a wearer's daily steps, distance travelled and calories burnt. Parents can in turn remotely pre-set their children's daily allowance, send them emergency money and monitor their children's spending, savings, eating habits and activity levels - all with an accompanying app.

The main aim of the POSB Smart Buddy programme is to help students learn how to save and manage their allowances in an increasingly digital world.

Another initiative came from OCBC in March last year when the bank released an app for the Apple Watch.

This enables customers to access their personal banking information, including the full list of their balances - accounts, cards and investments, recent transactions, and even the location of the nearest OCBC bank branch or ATM - on the watch.

Not to be left behind, UOB has also ventured into this space.

Fitbit said recently that UOB was one of 10 banks globally to support contactless payment for its latest activity tracker Fitbit Ionic.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 03, 2017, with the headline 'Apps and devices the way forward'. Print Edition | Subscribe