Smart-banking at dormitory for foreign workers with no bank account

Cash is king because many migrant workers do not have a bank account or an ATM card due to minimum sum requirements imposed by most banks, says Maybank.
Cash is king because many migrant workers do not have a bank account or an ATM card due to minimum sum requirements imposed by most banks, says Maybank.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

SINGAPORE - No bank account but still want smart-banking?

No problem, thanks to a new e-payment method for some 16,800 foreign workers at Tuas View Dormitory.

Armed with CrossPay, fin-tech company InfoCorp Technologies said the workers will be able to pay for groceries at the dormitory with their smartphones.

The app follows a survey conducted by the firm TS Group, which runs Tuas View Dormitory. Workers at the dormitory had indicated that cash represents 80 per cent of transactions there.

Cash is king because many migrant workers do not have a bank account or an ATM card due to minimum sum requirements imposed by most banks, says Maybank.

The bank signed a memorandum of understanding on Wednesday (Oct 4) with InfoCorp Technologies to launch the app which runs on a private blockchain platform for different goods and services within the dormitory compound.

Blockchain technology allows for the users to create a clear ledger for transactions within the compound, where exchange of digitalised currency can be recorded.

This new technology will only require the worker to own a smart device.

InfoCorp Technologies said not only are cash transactions inefficient, carrying cash also carries some risk of loss and theft. CrossPay will also benefit merchants and lower the risk of cash loss due to human error or theft, it said.

Merchants will be able to cash out these payments through Maybank.

The app will go on trial soon, allowing workers to go cashless when shopping at the dormitory's supermarket.

It will run until the end of 2017 and may be extended to other merchants in the compound then.

There are also plans to conduct a similar trial at another TS Group-run dormitory in Mandai, which houses 2,000 migrant workers.

The app also benefits workers with bank accounts as cash withdrawals and account balance enquiries are now mostly done at ATMs. The survey found that the average time spent queuing at the ATM in the dormitory was between 15 and 30 minutes.

Mr Roy Lai, the fintech firm's CEO, said: "Although there are different cashless payment solutions in Singapore, they are designed for more sophisticated bank customers with online banking access and mobile wallet apps.

"These solutions are not suitable for migrant workers as many of them have no experience with banking services. Introducing CrossPay to migrant workers therefore makes sense as it is a solution that specifically caters to their needs."