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Detailed guide to cashless payment methods in Singapore

Singapore has been one of the first countries when it comes to adopting modern technology. With the recent boom in various payment methods we as consumers have lots of choices for cashless payments. For those new to Singapore, it could also be overwhelming to keep a track of various cashless payments available in Singapore. Below is a detailed summary of all cashless payments available in Singapore.

NETS Bank card Payment

NETS or Network for Electronic Transfer is a local Singaporean electronic payment service provider and is very widely used here. This is close to 30 year old technology.

The way NETS Bank card payment works is- the cashier keys in the amount and then you key in the PIN. This then transfers the money to the merchant’s account. This is something similar like ATM card usage.

NETS debit system was also designated as the national payment system by the Monetary Authority of Singapore or MAS.

You should be able to use any of your local bank cards for NETS payment, as long as they bear the NETS payment logo.

NETS Cashcard payments

NETS Cashcard or NETS FlashPay or Contactless Cashcards are stored value cash cards. These cards are usually used for cashless payments for ERP or vehicle tolls on the expressways.

These cards can be purchased at various outlets and can be used for cashless payments. These cashless cards may not necessarily be protected with PINS, hence if lost, it’s equivalent to losing your cash.

e-NETS

e-NETS is the online payment system provided by NETS. For making payments using e-NETS, the funds will be deducted from your linked bank accounts. In order to make payments using e-NETS, merchants should have signed up for these payment types.

Other online payment types are more popular in Singapore, although you may see couple of websites accepting eNETS.

Contactless PayWave or PayPass

Contactless payments like Visa PayWave and MasterCard’s PayPass allows one to make payment at terminals by just bringing your cards in close proximity of the terminals.

This type of payment method is popular and helps one pay faster. There is no hassle of handing over your card to the cashier or signing receipts or keying in pins.

However, contactless payments can be misused by modern thieves by bringing in wireless payment terminals near your wallet.

Usually the maximum amount that can be debited using contactless payments is restricted- so that not much is lost in such cases. Also payment companies choose to usually insure us for such fraudulent transactions.

EZLink Cards

EZ Links cards are popular cards that are used for contactless payments for train and bus rides in Singapore.

These cards are stored value cards,which is topped up manually or can be linked to your bank accounts to be topped up when they run low on balance.

EZ-Link cards can be used in other few retail outlets other than public transport payments. 7-11, few hawker centers accept ez-link payments.

QR Code

QR Code is not so popular payment method in Singapore, however it is huge in China and few businesses did attempt to roll it out here.

The way QR code works is, you scan the code displayed at the outlet, which then pulls up necessary information about the payment like whom you are paying and which account to etc.

You then enter the amount you are paying, confirm it with the vendor and hit pay.

The problem with static QR code’s is-since it only transfers few static details of the payment to you, some important information needs to be manually keyed in. The amount that needs to be paid is dynamic and hence not included in the code.

This can however be solved with dynamic QR code.

PayNow

PayNow is a new service launched by collaborating banks in Singapore. The idea is you can send and receive money to your PayNow account which is signed up using phone number.

Thus, say if you want to pay your friend- as Long as he or she has registered her phone number for PayNow – you can pay now transfer to his or her phone number.

They will receive funds in their PayNow bank account. Similarly one can link their bank account to PayNow, so while paying someone using PayNow, the money will be auto deducted from your bank account.

PayNow has also launched PayNow Corporate and PayNow QR using which businesses can send and receive funds.

PayNow has a limit on total amount of funds that can be transacted in one go.

DBS PayLah

DBS PayLah is an wallet app launched by DBS which is similar to PayNow. The features of PayLah is that- it being a wallet, you can hold funds in this wallet.

You can link your bank accounts to PayLah and funds can be transferred seamlessly amongst the both.

DBS PayLah does support PayNow as well. That means, one can transfer funds easily between PayLah and PayNow accounts.

OCBC Pay anyone

Similar to DBS, OCBC has recently launched Pay anyone. However, OCBC Pay Anyone is not a wallet app. This means, OCBC Pay anyone can be used by OCBC bank customers only as researched at the time of writing this article.

Apple Pay/ Android Pay/ Samsung Pay/ Smartphone wallets

Smartphone based virtual payments is getting popular, thanks to the marketing of the major smartphone manufacturers.

The way this method works is, you register your credit/debit card or bank account with your smartphone wallet payment provider like Apple or Android Phone (Google Pay) or Samsung etc. Your phone’s near field communication or NFC is then linked to a terminal which helps charge your linked card or account.

Once at the store that accepts these payments, you need to open up the payment method on your phone and authenticate to pay.

Smartphone payments can now also be used for MRT or Mass Rapid Transport payments in Singapore.

Foreign linked cards in your Apple/ Samsung or Android Pay wallet can also be used, as Long as your bank supports international transactions. Please Ensure to check if extra forex fees may apply.

Ali Pay/ WeChat Pay

Ali Pay and WeChat Pay are very popular cashless payment methods in China. The app is similar to your smartphone’s payment wallet where you link your credit or debit cards to your wallet and transactions are made through these app at the terminals.

AliPay and WeChat pay is accepted in few outlets in Singapore. We have noticed lots of retail outlets at the Changi International Airport, accepting WeChat pay.

Usual VISA/ Mastercard Protocols

Needless to say, your usual good old Credit and Debit cards can be directly used to make cashless payments in Singapore.

You will have to sign up with Credit card Companies / Banks to issue you either of the protocols like VISA/ MasterCard/ AmericanExpress etc. With increasing needs of protecting credit cards, virtual credit cards are also a great way to mask them for one time use. Learn more about virtual cards in Singapore here.

With the rising different ways of cashless payments, do let us know your favourite options and why? : )