SMS notification added to PayNow service

More than 500,000 people have registered to use PayNow, a new instant fund-transfer system that does not require users to enter bank account numbers - traditionally a bugbear for those using e-payments.

Since its launch on July 10, more than $10 million has changed hands, according to the latest figures from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

PayNow allows users to transfer money by entering the recipient's mobile phone or NRIC number in any bank's app.

Yesterday, MAS and the Association of Banks in Singapore said the process has been stream- lined further.

Both the sender and recipient will receive an SMS notification when the transfer is complete, removing the need to check bank accounts to ensure the transaction went through.

In banking statements and notifications, a PayNow transaction will also reflect the sender's name instead of a string of numbers, as is the practice for some banks now.

These changes are expected to be rolled out across banks here by the end of next month.

The update comes in the wake of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's National Day Rally speech on Sunday, when he noted that Singapore lags behind other cities in e-payments and other areas of its Smart Nation push. Six in 10 consumer payments here were made in cash or cheque last year, a MAS-commissioned study by consulting firm KPMG Advisory found.

PM Lee added that MAS has been working to promote cashless transactions.

PayNow users such as business owner Lim Jialiang, 27, welcomed the news, saying that people will choose cash if cashless settlements are not as fast.

For instance, Mr Lim received a payment via PayNow two weeks ago in his DBS account from a customer using another bank's app.

"There was no notification. I had to check my bank account to make sure the transfer was made," said Mr Lim, who sells chocolates at the National Design Centre and at pop-up stores.

"The queue might build up and add to delays if I have to check my bank account each time a customer pays via PayNow."

When contacted, a spokesman for DBS said the bank is looking to enable an e-mail and SMS feature by the end of next month to notify recipients of fund transfers made via PayNow.

DBS holds the lion's share of the PayNow market with 320,000 registrations, while OCBC said 200,000 customers have registered. UOB declined to reveal how many of its customers are on PayNow.

There are also plans to make QR codes available for PayNow by year end. The PayNow QR code will allow merchants to accept payments from consumers without having to ask customers for their mobile or NRIC number. Consumers just need to scan the QR code to make payments.

So far, only DBS and OCBC have incorporated a QR code scanner in their PayLah and Pay Anyone banking apps.

Correction note: In our earlier story, we said only DBS has incorporated a QR code scanner in its PayLah banking app. This is incorrect. OCBC has also incorporated a QR code scanner in its Pay Anyone banking app. We are sorry for the error.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 23, 2017, with the headline 'SMS notification added to PayNow service'. Print Edition | Subscribe