SINGAPORE - A digital payment service that makes government payments in Singapore simpler, more convenient and paper-less has seen close to 900,000 transactions totalling more than $41 million since its launch in November, said OCBC Bank on Monday (Aug 15).
GovWallet on the LifeSG mobile application allows Singaporeans and permanent residents to receive government payments via the app, instead of cheques and paper vouchers.
Depending on the scheme they are eligible for, users can either transfer the government payouts to PayNow NRIC-linked bank accounts, or spend them at merchants that accept payment by "Scan and Pay" via PayNow UEN or Nets QR.
The Government Technology Agency (GovTech) worked with OCBC to develop the service, which is available to all recipients of government payments and not just the bank's customers.
It will be used for the disbursement of goods and services tax vouchers in August, said OCBC. This will benefit recipients who do not have bank accounts for direct crediting.
GovWallet is already being used by the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) and Ministry of Home Affairs for their national service recognition awards and NS55 Recognition Package in commemoration of 55 years of NS - in place of cheques and paper vouchers.
The Central Provident Fund Board is also tapping GovWallet for the Workfare Income Supplement scheme.
Prior to the adoption of GovWallet, the three agencies issued close to 600,000 cheques and paper vouchers in 2021.
The agencies can also specify the types of merchants that qualify for their schemes, such as heartland shops or supermarkets. Merchants that already accept payment via PayNow and Nets need not perform additional sign-ups as the digital service already utilises the two payment methods. Currently, there are more than 164,000 merchants registered with PayNow and 43,000 with Nets.
Recipients can easily monitor the balance amounts of their government payments and transaction histories on the LifeSG app. They also have the flexibility to spend any amount within the limit of their payouts instead of having to spend a minimum sum at a time, which is a limitation of paper vouchers.
Both GovTech and OCBC expect more government agencies to adopt GovWallet in the coming months, with the number of transactions projected to cross one million in the first year.
"Doing away with close to 600,000 cheques and paper vouchers in a year that could otherwise be issued by our partner agencies also helps with our sustainability efforts at the national level, including Singapore's ambition to go cheque-free by 2025," said Mr Melvyn Low, OCBC's head of global transaction banking.
Mr Xeph Low, a recipient of Mindef's NS55 payment, said: "It was easy to use this payment service; I simply opened up my LifeSG app and was able to pay for my purchases with just a few clicks."
A merchant he visited was "a small provision shop in the heartland, and it was a nice surprise that it accepted this form of payment".
Mr Tan Weizhe, Mindef's director of national service policy, said that with GovWallet, national servicemen are able to get more value from their credits.
"Some merchants offer discounts when credits from our NS recognition awards are used, to express recognition for national servicemen. This is a reason why we opted to disburse digital credits instead of cash," he said.
The credits are also "accepted by a far broader range of merchants, including heartland shops and hawkers", compared with hard-copy vouchers, he added.