SINGAPORE – Funds transfer services PayNow and Fast (Fast And Secure Transfers) will soon become more widely used in Singapore, with financial institutions other than banks tapping the platforms.

This is set to make e-payment adoption simpler for both businesses and individuals.

Starting February 2021, eligible non-bank financial institutions will have direct access to the banking system’s retail payments infrastructure, said the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) on Monday (Nov 30).

This means that non-bank financial institutions (NFIs) that are licensed as major payment institutions will be allowed to connect directly to Fast and PayNow.

These NFIs include Grab Financial Group, which operates mobile wallet GrabPay; Razer Fintech, the financial technology arm of gaming firm Razer; and e-wallet Singtel Dash.

The direct connection will allow users of NFI wallets to make real-time fund transfers between their bank accounts and e-wallets, as well as between various e-wallets.

Most e-wallets currently require users to top up their funds using debit or credit cards, and do not allow transfer of funds between e-wallets.

MAS managing director Ravi Menon said the move to allow NFIs to have direct access to PayNow and Fast closes the “last-mile gap in Singapore’s e-payments journey”.

“Consumers who may not have ready access to debit or credit cards to fund their e-wallets will now have the option to do so directly through their bank accounts. Adoption of e-payments will become even more simple for individuals and businesses,” he said.

Merchants are also expected to benefit from the move.

Businesses that partner any of the 23 Fast or nine PayNow banks, or e-wallets that have traditionally been closed-loop ecosystems, will soon be able to receive real-time payments from other users of e-wallets or mobile banking applications that will be joining Fast or PayNow.

“This will enable businesses to access a larger market of consumers than before for receiving e-payments instantly and seamlessly,” said Singapore’s central bank.

The nine participating PayNow banks are Bank of China, Citibank, DBS Bank, HSBC, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Maybank, OCBC Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, and United Overseas Bank.

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As for the mechanics of the initiative, NFIs will be able to connect directly through a new Application Programming Interface (API) payment gateway developed by the Direct Fast Working Group.

The group is guided by the Singapore Clearing House Association and the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS), which govern Fast and PayNow respectively.

ABS director Ong Ai-Boon said this is the first time the industry has opened access to these two important e-payment platforms to non-banks.

“Fast and PayNow adoption rates have exceeded expectations and we are confident that the addition of new players will help accelerate the national path towards a less-cash economy,” said Mrs Ong.

Mr Lawrence Chan, chairman of Banking Computer Services, which operates Fast and PayNow, said: “The successful launch of the API payment gateway is a significant milestone for Fast and PayNow, which are the foundation of instantaneous, open and accessible payments.”

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