Non-Banks In Singapore To Get Access To Real-Time Payment Rails

Singapore, non-banks, digital payments, FAST, PayNow, MAS

Non-bank lenders in Singapore will soon be granted access to the country’s digital payments platforms PayNow and FAST, according to a statement from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the country’s central bank, on Monday (Nov. 30).

PayNow and FAST enable people to move funds between banks and digital wallets. Most digital wallets can only be funded with a credit or debit card.

The access was made possible due to the development of a new API by the Singapore Clearing House Association (SCHA), which monitors FAST, and the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS), which oversees PayNow. It will be available starting February 2021.

“Direct access by NFIs to FAST and PayNow closes the last-mile gap in Singapore’s ePayments journey. Consumers who may not have ready access to debit or credit cards to fund their eWallets will now have the option to do so directly through their bank accounts,” said Ravi Menon, managing director, MAS.

More than 12.5 million FAST transactions were processed monthly in the quarter ending Sept. 30. Half of the monthly transactions were handled via PayNow, MAS 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,” said Lawrence Chan, chairman of banking computer services (BCS). 

The new API was developed by banks and non-bank financial institutions — Citi Singapore, Deutsche Bank AG Singapore, Standard Chartered Singapore, Grab Financial Group, Liquid Group, Razer FinTech and Singtel Dash. 

Non-banks Grab and Razer are in the running for a digital bank license in Singapore.

The API allows for the real-time processing of payments and transfers via 23 FAST or nine PayNow banks.

Ong Ai-Boon, director, ABS, said adoption of FAST and PayNow surpassed projections, and “we are confident the addition of new players will help accelerate the national path towards a less-cash economy.”

MAS said last week that the digital licenses will be awarded regardless of regulatory tightening in China. Digital banking licenses are being sought by numerous entities and individuals, including Jack Ma of Ant Group and ByteDance, owner of TikTok.