Five major banks in Singapore have signed up to the Apple Pay e-wallet system, allowing credit and debit card users here to tap and pay with their mobile devices from today.
Together, the five banks - POSB, DBS Bank, OCBC Bank, United Overseas Bank (UOB) and Standard Chartered Bank - account for more than 80 per cent of the Visa and MasterCard credit and debit cards issued in Singapore.
Their customers can now add their card details to a "digital wallet" stored on their iPhones, iPads and Apple Watches.
Apple Pay was launched here last month, but its use was limited to holders of American Express-issued cards until today.
Apple Pay vice-president Jennifer Bailey told The Straits Times: "Now, almost everyone can leave their wallets at home. Apple Pay will be a natural extension of what users have been doing at payment counters."
Like the ez-link stored-value card and Visa payWave credit and debit cards, Apple Pay uses the wireless near-field communication technology to transmit data between the mobile device and a contactless payment reader.
Already, a third of all Visa credit and debit card transactions in Singapore at brick-and-mortar stores are contactless, according to Visa.
Contactless payment is accepted at 30,000 retail points here, including FairPrice and Cold Storage supermarkets, as well as Guardian, Starbucks and Uniqlo outlets.
Users place their fingers on the iPhone's or iPad's fingerprint sensor to authenticate a transaction. There is a $100 cap on most transactions. But UOB has lifted the $100 cap for its merchants, such as Singapore Petroleum Company, Caltex, Metro and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.
Supported handsets include the iPhone SE, iPhone 6, iPad Pro and the iPad Air 2.
Apple Watch users need only tap the watch on a contactless reader.
Mr Clement Teo, a senior analyst at market research firm Forrester, said: "Contactless payment has the potential to be more widespread, as Singaporeans are already quite used to tapping and paying for goods with Visa payWave."
Ms Bailey said Apple is working to bring more banks on board.
The Straits Times understands that banks have to install new back- end systems - such as those that verify transactions - to work with Apple Pay. Citibank, HSBC, ANZ and Maybank still do not work with Apple Pay.
Next month, Samsung Pay will be launched here, allowing some of Samsung's latest Android devices to be used to make payments. The firm has tied up with both Visa and MasterCard, as well as a number of banks, to roll this out.
Mr Michael Yeo, senior analyst at market research firm IDC Asia- Pacific's financial insights and retail insights team, said Singapore may still be some years away from being a cashless nation. "But digital wallets like these are bringing that vision one step closer."