Although Silicon Valley in the United States tends to dominate the tech scene in terms of both news coverage and technological developments, this monopoly is slowly beginning to shift. As more and more businesses begin to shift away from Silicon Valley, micro tech hubs such as Singapore are beginning to establish themselves on the global stage.
In fact, if recent reports are anything to go by, Singapore looks poised to become the epicentre of tech, not just in the Asia-Pacific region but also on the global stage. This vision for the future is backed up by a recent industry report by KPMG, which noted that among a select group of industry insiders, Singapore has taken the top spot as a potential world-leading tech hub.
And there are few sectors where Singapore is looking to establish a global presence as aggressively as the financial technology – or fintech – sector.
In fact, digital payments and fintech are among the areas in which the Asia-Pacific far outpaces even Silicon Valley. The potential for growth in the digital sector is significant, with a staggering 46% of the Asia-Pacific’s 1.8 billion online population regularly using a digital wallet (or e-wallet) service. Judging by these numbers, Asian countries are leading the charge towards a cashless society.
Singapore is no different, and despite recent comments by the Monetary Authority of Singapore board member Ong Ye Kung that the goal is not to be completely cashless, the move towards a predominantly digital society is well under way.
But as Singapore moves towards a primarily digital economy, what payment options do Singaporeans have available to them?
Mobile payment connected to a bank account
A popular method of sending money digitally is to pay the vendor straight from your bank account. This is typically done using a pre-downloaded banking app, which you can use to make transfers. Although these usually take a day or so to process fully, the payment can be initiated in an instant.
Mobile payment using a linked credit or debit card
You can, of course, simply use your physical credit or debit card to initiate a transfer and to complete a payment, through either contactless or chip and pin transactions. However, an increasingly popular option for Singaporeans is to link their physical credit or debit card to either their mobile phone or a specific payment app.
This allows users to do away with the need for a physical card, with these app solutions capable of holding multiple card types at once. This method is proving popular as it essentially allows you to do away with the physical wallet you typically carry around with you. Common options for this mode of payment currently include Samsung Pay, Apple Pay and Google Pay.
Mobile payment using a digital app
Another recent development is the rise of payment methods built into existing app ecosystems. These are basically payment methods, launched by app companies, which facilitate cashless transfers within the app. These can also be combined with additional perks that make the deal even sweeter for users!
Popular options include FavePay, WeChat Pay and Alipay. Similar payment ecosystems can be found, in particular, on digital platforms like online casinos. Online casinos have been at the forefront of digital payment methods, particularly cryptocurrency support, for some time now. These have provided a widespread alternative to more traditional credit card casinos, although both are still commonly used.
Mobile payment using a mobile or digital wallet
An option that is fast gaining traction among young Singaporeans is the mobile or digital wallet. These digital wallets can be connected to bank accounts or other payment methods, which can then be topped up with the desired amount of funds. You can then use this digital wallet to pay for goods and services, without the need to open your banking app or to take out your card.
This is a popular method, not only because transfers can be completed instantly, but also because they have a number of security benefits attached to them, as well as allowing you to manage multiple currency types at once within one single app. Popular options for instant mobile payments include Singtel Dash, GrabPay, DBS PayLah! and YouTrip.
In light of all these payment options available to Singaporeans, we begin to get a sense of how quickly digital payments have been embraced. To what extent a place will remain for cash transactions in the future, however, remains to be seen.
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