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Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay: What Singaporeans Need to Know About Digital Wallets

digital wallet singapore

Joanne Poh

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The phrase “digital wallet” must ring some sort of bell by now, even for the most technologically backward amongst us, simply because everyone’s been going on and on about them—well, in the newspapers and on the internet, anyway.

Digital wallets are basically mobile applications you can download to your smartphone or other mobile device. You can then make e-commerce transactions directly using your device. That could mean tapping your phone like an EZlink card at a store.

Some of the highest profile digital wallets that have hit our shores are Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay—in fact, we’re the fifth country in the world where Samsung Pay has been launched.

This means that at some point in the future, you could leave the house without your actual wallet, paying for everything using your smartphone.

This also means that douchebag friend of yours who always claims he “forgot his wallet” when it comes time to split the bill will have to think of a new excuse. Here’s all you need to know.

Why you should use a digital wallet

There are two good reasons to use a digital 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!

Where can you use digital wallets in Singapore?

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, because Singaporeans love making it easier for you to give them your money.

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 and 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.

Who can use digital wallets?

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.

When will digital wallets be adopted widely?

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 older folks 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.

How do you get your digital wallet up and running?

Getting your digital wallet up and running is a snap for tech savvy Singaporeans. If you’re stumped, hand the phone to your five year old kid and he’ll have it all figured out.

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) Um, that’s all. 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.

Are you ready to start using a digital wallet? Tell us why or why not in the comments!

Image Credit: Jason Howie

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.

  • Adrian Lim Lai Heng

    You will start worrying, if your handphone need to send for repair. Totally dead, and you can’t remove the digital cards and information from your phone.