The Singtel Group plans to roll out mobile wallet interoperability across its network of regional associates in Asia by the middle of this year, it said yesterday.
Mobile wallet customers of Singtel and the group's various associate telcos would then be able to make cashless payments in their home currency, using their home telco's app, at physical merchants while abroad.
Thailand's AIS will be the first regional associate to join the programme.
Singtel's goal is to bring the Philippines' Globe, Indonesia's Telkomsel and India's Airtel on board from the second half of this year, pending regulatory approval.
Regulators have already given the green light for the partnership between Singtel's Dash payments app and Thai counterpart myAIS, said Mr Arthur Lang, chief executive of Singtel's international group.
Globe has a GCash service, while Telkomsel's is called TCash, and Airtel offers the Airtel Money wallet.
"Rather than just hold stakes in various companies and leverage the core businesses, we want to do more," said Mr Lang in a telephone interview.
About 50 million of Singtel Group's more than 590 million regional mobile customers use their telcos' mobile wallets.
They include the more than half a million Singtel Dash users in Singapore. The group also has about one million merchant points that accept these telcos' mobile wallet payments regionwide.
Holidaymakers and business travellers are a key target for the expanded payments service, as are small and medium-sized merchants in South-east Asia.
Mr Lang noted that the new service for physical merchant points follows the Singtel Open Platform, which is for online transactions across the group.
He called the mobile wallet market in both Singapore and the region "fragmented", and argued that Singtel can differentiate itself by being interoperable across several different telcos in Asia.
As for extending the interoperable wallet service to Australian subsidiary Optus or to associates in Africa, he said he could not commit to a timeline.
Mr Somchai Lertsutiwong, chief executive of AIS, said in a statement: "The interconnectivity enhances AIS, offering our customers greater convenience and ease in transacting with their Rabbit Line Pay wallet within myAIS app when they travel to Singapore."
Telkomsel chief executive Ririek Adriansyah said: "Cross-border mobile wallet interoperability is crucial to the digital economy and will further support our government in promoting financial inclusion for the Indonesian people."