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Payment Platforms in Singapore

Let us first take a brief look on what payment gateways are, then go through the various payment platforms in Singapore.

Payment gateways/platforms help facilitate online transactions, where customers cannot physically use their bank cards. They greatly reduce the fraudulent activity that comes with this and conduct deals securely and smoothly. Hence, payment gateways tend to focus a lot on security, flexibility, ease of use and benefit systems to entice more people.

This gives rise to a demand for reliable middlemen to act as payment platforms, especially in Singapore. So, here are some of the popular platforms that have risen to tackle this problem.

An Innisfree outlet’s list of accepted payments via various platforms.

1) GrabPay

GrabPay is an initiative by Grab Holdings Inc. to help as the go-between for payments. It is a mobile wallet in the Grab app that you can top-up via your bank card or via a QR code. GrabPay can be used for in-app services for in certain physical retailers.

Pros of GrabPay

The Grab app mainly provides services such as the purchase of groceries, food delivery, transportation and so on. Thus, the use of GrabPay simplifies paying for these services in-app, as this does not require that you input your details and await confirmation from third-party merchants (MasterCard, Visa etc.) every single time. Also, GrabPay can be used as a cashless platform of transaction in physical retailers that have the GrabPay logo.

By using GrabPay, you are able to accumalate points to redeem GrabRewards from over 250 merchants in Southeast-Asia.

In terms of security, GrabPay has security features like 2-Factor Authentication (2FA) to verify users and it’s own fraud detection system. This system monitors all transactions and payment info 24/7 to stop fraudulent activity.

Cons of GrabPay

In order to use GrabPay in brick-and-mortar stores, the GrabPay logo and QR code must be available in order to be used. It also does not use NFC technology, so camera-less smartphones will be at a slight disadvantage. However, these are all comparatively minor inconveniences.

2) FavePay

FavePay is a feature of Fave, a company that offers discounts with partnered retailers, ranging from beauty and wellness to food and leisure. However, FavePay is not a mobile wallet the way GrabPay is. Rather, it is a complete, exclusive payment platform in the Fave app.

Pros of FavePay

The idea of Fave is to provide good discounts from as many merchants as possible. You can find a list of accepted ones in the app and by using FavePay, there will be benefits that include discounts of up to 20%. There is also the possibility of having cashback instead.

Interestingly, to help with transactions in its platform, FavePay allows the use of the mobile wallet GrabPay so as to eliminate the constant input of payment details. In essence, you will be using GrabPay on the FavePay platform and will get to enjoy the listed benefits!

On FavePay, you can use credit/debit cards or save the hassle with GrabPay.

Cons of FavePay

Merchants partnered with FavePay are able to choose if they want to give a discount or offer cashback, and also how much they want to give back. So more often than not, customers receive cashback favourable for the merchants instead of a discount. They also do not have any obvious security features apart from fingerprint authorizations, instead relying on the security of GrabPay.

Hence, this could deter customers and potential users from FavePay.

3) SingTel Dash

SingTel Dash is another one of the many payment platforms in Singapore, created by SingTel to act as a mobile e-wallet. Singapore residents over 16 years old and who have a Singapore-registered mobile number can use Dash.


Pros of SingTel Dash

SingTel Dash has many merits to it. Firstly, Dash is accepted in over 50,000 locations islandwide and more in Japan and Thailand, and the app has plenty of cashback deals and discounts with its’ merchants. Familiar partners include FairPrice, Sheng Shiong, Comfort and KFC. To cap it off, there are zero overseas transaction fees if you use it internationally.

You can use Dash to send money to contacts. If you have a prepaid SingTel mobile number, you can top it up via the app, or pay your postpaid number’s monthly bills with it. Interestingly you can top up Dash for other people in your contacts, too.

Another key feature of Dash is that you can register for a Dash Visa Virtual Card. This is a completely virtual Visa card that is generated by SingTel Dash for you i.e you have a card in your phone. Utilising NFC technology, you can simply tap your phone and pay at any accepted merchants. This can be used to pay for MRT and bus rides in Singapore, too.

In terms of security, SingTel Dash enables fingerprint authorization and email alerts for all transactions. It is also possible to set the option to use your PIN for every payment, not exceeding a user-set amount.

Cons of SingTel Dash

One of the demerits of SingTel Dash is that if you top-up via your credit/debit cards, a small fee will be waived for doing so. This is not the case for the other methods, though.

The minimum top-up amount is also capped from $50. This is a deterrence for users who would only like to put in smaller amounts.

Lastly, you will have to verify your account in order to raise your Dash wallet limit to $3000 and enjoy other extra features of the app.

4) DBS PayLah!

DBS PayLah! is one of the more well-known payment platforms in Singapore, created by DBS Bank Ltd. It is a sister app of their PayNow iBanking app and contains a variety of useful features.

Pros of PayLah!

DBS PayLah! enables payment via QR code, whether it be you scanning a PayLah!QR code or showing the payer the QR on your app screen. Curiously you are also able to ‘request’ contacts to send you money via PayLah! on your phone.

If not QR, you can also transfer money with just the contact info of your recipient. More importantly, PayLah! has a feature to settle bills from almost 80 organizations, if you have the bill reference number.

Some of the ways you can put PayLah! to use.

You do not need a bank account under DBS or POSB in order to use this mobile wallet, and you can transfer money to anybody even if they do not have a DBS/POSBbank account, let alone a PayLah! account.

Users can also get rewards, such as a $1 cashback daily if they are lucky enough to be one of the first 5000 to use PayLah! for Comfort or CityCab taxi rides.

In terms of security, it uses your fingerprint for authorization or the input of your PIN.

Cons of DBS PayLah!

One con of PayLah! is that it currently does not support its use for grocery shopping i.e supermarkets currently do not support it.

Also, if you are using a bank account not under DBS/POSB to fund your wallet, you are unable to directly top-up, instead having to rely on internet banking transfer from your bank account over to PayLah! and this can be a big hassle for many.

5) Carousell Protection (by Carousell)

Carousell Protection is a payment platform on Carousell that is exclusive to the app itself, similar to FavePay and PayPal in function. As it’s name implies, it is for people to securely pay and receive money without being scammed off any listed products. This makes it unique and complimentary to the setup of Carousell.


Pros of Carousell Protection

Carousell Protection allows the use of DBS PayLah! (without any payment fees) and credit/debit cards on its platform. You may also link your bank account to the app so as to send money from Carousell to your account.

Now, as Carousell Protection was created to counter scams on Carousell, it is very security focused and fortunately, free to use. You do not have to share your personal and payment details with unknown buyers or sellers, thus protecting your privacy.

If you are the buyer, your payment will be held by Carousell Protection until your item is confirmed to be received. For sellers, the risk of late payments are greatly reduced and you can raise any perceived issues up for investigation.

Cons of Carousell Protection

If a product is not received by a customer by seven days, Carousell Protection will return the buyer’s money back. This is disadvantageous to the seller who might need more time to issue the listed item.

Also, when using credit/debit cards such as those under MasterCard or Visa, you will be liable to third party service fees. Unless one has PayLah! to circumvent these fees, this will also prove to be another demerit for users.

Page in Carousell showing accepted payment methods and service fees.

6) NETSPay

NETSPay is a mobile payment gateway that allows you to pay directly from your bank accounts. It is also one of the more known payment platforms in Singapore.


Pros of NETSPay

NETSPay is accepted at over 100,000 points islandwide. For security reasons, before any purchase, fingerprint or passcode authorization is necessary. Also, your card details are never revealed to the merchant, thus boosting it’s security element. The use of your ATM pin is not required for any transaction below $100.

Security options for NETSPay

You can input the details of your DBS/POSB, UOB or OCBC bank cards into the NETSPay app to generate a digitized version. With these digital cards, you are also able to top up your NETSPay mobile prepaid wallet, and it can be used to send or receive money via mobile number or with QR codes.

The NETSPay wallet makes use of both QR and NFC technology to permit payments. You can scan QR codes to pay at almost 7.5 million merchants globally, or tap to pay via NFC at almost 12 million merchants internationally. E-commerce and in-app payments are also permitted with NETSPay.

Cons of NETSPay

One con of NETSPay is that you are unable to withdraw back cash from the mobile wallet. This means that while you can top-up the wallet with the digitized versions of your bank cards, you cannot do the opposite.

There are also no discounts, cashbacks or rewards that are given when you choose to pay via NETSPay. This does not make it as attractive as other mobile wallets and payment platforms in Singapore.

Why not a unified payment platform?

With the various examples listed above it does give rise to the question; why are there so many types instead of just one unified payment platform? We attempt to give our take on these question, below.

Firstly, we must understand that the technology sector is progressing at a rate never seen before, especially Fintech. As transactions increasingly take place virtually on the Internet, new problems arise such as scams and fraud. Hence, as stated in the article prelude, there is a high demand for payment platforms and gateways that are secure, flexible and easy to use.

A number of companies do have aversions to a united payment platform as they too, would like to include their own benefit and reward system, so as to keep and attract new users. The costs of using third-party gateway systems are also very high, and with new strides in technology, companies are finding it easier to implement their own payment platforms.

What if there was one?

What would it be like with a payment platform that is unified? A single system that can be used across every merchant anywhere, be it in Singapore or internationally? Well firstly, this would present a very high mark-up in terms of ease of use.

It may potentially also be very flexible with the payment methods allowed (e.g NFC tech, QR code, mobile number input etc.) in their systems. Perhaps the only major concern would be its security, as having a single, simple target without any redundancy could be very susceptible to major hacks and loss of money.

Do not bet against the existence of a unified payment platform though, technology is ever-improving and with the new possibilities offered by the likes of Blockchain technology, we might just see a huge Fintech breakthrough in payment platforms.

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