South-east Asia could soon witness some major changes in its regional payments infrastructure, as a result of two key markets – Singapore and Thailand – looking into the possibility of connecting their national digital payment platforms.
Speaking to Bloomberg, Napongthawat Phothikit, director of payment systems policy at the Bank of Thailand, said the project would bring together the region’s first national digital payment systems: Singapore’s PayNow and Thailand’s PromptPay.
While discussions are at an early stage, Mr Phothikit did confirm that Thailand’s central bank and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) are “exploring the possibility” of connecting the two networks.
A spokesperson for MAS described these kinds of efforts to improve cross-border financial services in south-east Asia as a “positive development for the industry”.
“MAS encourages more of such cross-border engagements, premised on common standards, to create a seamless and interoperable digital experience for the Asean [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] community,” the representative added.
Both Thailand and Singapore introduced their respective digital payment systems earlier in 2017.
The Bank of Thailand supervised the rollout of PromptPay in January and the service has now received approximately 24 million registrations via national identity cards.
PayNow was made available to the citizens of Singapore in July and, according to figures released by MAS in August, has already seen over 500,000 registrations and more than S$10 million (US$7.4 million) in transfers.
The peer-to-peer service works by linking mobile numbers and identity cards to bank accounts, allowing consumers to transfer money to any other individual who has registered.
While there is clear technological growth and development taking place in the payments sector across Asia, there is also an ongoing reliance on cash in a number of key markets within the region.
Recent research by PayPal found that 57 percent of survey respondents in the Asia-Pacific region preferred to use cash for day-to-day transactions.
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