Reasons to use a digital wallet
There are two good reasons to use an e-wallet, and both are sure to appeal to Singaporeans: it’s easy, and it’s free.
If you’re old enough to remember the days when mobile phones were the size of a fist (Nokia 8210 or Motorola RAZR anyone?), you also have to admit that the smartphones we’re carrying around now are just ridiculously large. Some models are so big they make you look like you’re holding an iPad up to your face when you make a call. Since your phone is so big, don’t weigh yourself down further with an enormous wallet stuffed with credit cards and receipts.
You are also not charged any transaction fees whatsoever when you pay using these apps—they make money from the banks instead of merchants, which means no charges are passed on to you. Sweet!
Places where you can pay via smartphone right now
Don’t show up at your neighbourhood kopitiam with your digital wallet or try to pay the 50 cent public toilet fee using your smartphone.
Digital wallets are still very new, so many businesses do not accept payment via digital wallet yet, although a truckload are expected to jump on the bandwagon in the coming year or two.
Still, there are already about 30,000 (!) retail points accepting contactless payment, which is a lot! Some of the places you can use your digital wallets include FairPrice, Cold Storage, Guardian, Starbucks, Uniqlo and ComfortDelgro taxis.
While there is still a $100 cap on most transactions, UOB has lifted this cap for transactions with certain merchants, including SPC, Caltex, Metro and The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.
Check if your credit or debit card is eligible
Right now the following banks allow their credit and debit card holders to pay using the following platforms:
Apple Pay: POSB/DBS, UOB, OCBC and Standard Chartered
Android Pay: POSB/DBS, UOB, OCBC and Standard Chartered
Samsung Pay: POSB/DBS, OCBC, Standard Chartered and Citibank
In time to come, it’s likely that all the card-issuing banks in Singapore will adopt this payment system.
You’ll probably download it in future, if not now
At this point, it’s hard to tell if digital wallets will completely eclipse physical wallets in Singapore. There will be people out there who prefer the feel of plastic in their hand (especially if we’re talking about a diamond card here). And then there are some folk who, despite being fairly wealthy, don’t “believe” in credit cards.
But just as payment by tapping an EZLink or credit card has become something all of us do at least some of the time, it’s likely a fair number of people will end up downloading a digital wallet app just in case.
Here’s how to pay with your smartphone
Getting your digital wallet up and running is a snap for tech savvy Singaporeans. If you’re stumped, this guide will help get you started:
1. Download and install the app on your phone.
2. Create your account and then add your credit card or debit cards, usually either by scanning or manually entering the details.
3. Verify your cards. You’ll be sent a verification code which you need to enter to activate your cards.
4. And voila! Go out and start shopping.
We can’t be sure if digital wallets are going to catch on like wildfire or if they’re going to go the way of bubble tea. But for now, they’re a super convenient way to pay for stuff, and can be a lifeline if something happens to your wallet.
Text: Joanne Poh / Additional Reporting: Elizabeth Liew
This story first appeared on the MoneySmart blog.
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