Mobile payments: A way of life in China, Korea but Singapore remains worried

Samsung's new Samsung Pay mobile wallet system is demonstrated at its Australian launch in Sydney, on June 15.
Samsung's new Samsung Pay mobile wallet system is demonstrated at its Australian launch in Sydney, on June 15. PHOTO: REUTERS

Samsung Pay has three million subscribers while IT giants Naver and Kakao have 26 million users between them New technologies and the prevalence of smartphones have made mobile payments part of everyday life in South Korea and China. However, Singapore consumers remain concerned about security and privacy issues.


Post-graduate student Huh Sun Young, 27, cannot live without her smartphone as she uses it not only to stay in touch with friends and surf the Internet, but also as a wallet.

Instead of using cash or a credit card, she swipes her Samsung Galaxy Note 5 to pay for meals at restaurants and to buy things at convenience stores.

"It is very easy to use, especially when I can't get my wallet out of my bag or when I'm carrying too many things. ... I'm concerned about security but I think it's OK because my phone is locked with my fingerprint," she said.



With a mobile phone in hand, I can practically pay for anything in Beijing, from meals at neighbourhood eateries to electricity bills and taxi fares.

But I also learnt that mobile payments could come in handy in the most unexpected situations.

A few weeks ago, I was at my local wet market's sundry shop, trying to get a few items like clothes hangers for my new house. I moved to Beijing in June to begin my posting to this newspaper's China bureau.



E-wallet services have been available in Singapore for two months now, with plenty of support from major banks and phone manufacturers. However, worried about security and privacy, users are not hopping on as readily.

Services such as Apple Pay, Google's Android Pay and Samsung Pay, launched with splashy advertisements, allow users to simply tap their mobile phones on a device to pay for goods and services.

POSB, DBS Bank, OCBC Bank, United Overseas Bank (UOB), Standard Chartered Bank and Citibank, which account for about 12 million cards - eight in 10 of Visa and MasterCard cards issued here - support at least one of these three e-wallet services.