Singtel preservers with mobile payments in an increasingly OTT market
- Singtel and AIS debut VIA, Asia's first cross-border mobile payment alliance
- Launches Singapore-Thailand cross-border mobile payments
- Cross-border mobile payments seen as driver for digital economies in the region
- Southeast Asia also pushing ahead with contactless payment schemes
Think telcos have been muscled out of the mobile wallet market? Not quite. Yes, Apple Pay and Google Pay may be leading the pack, thanks to their tightly integrated smartphone services, but there are plenty of other OTT competitors of all shapes and sizes, and – perhaps surprisingly – a telco or two. The time when mobile operators were clamouring to own the mobile payment space is now long gone, and the new focus for many of them is on mobile money, especially in areas of the world which are still largely “unbanked”.
Singapore telco Singtel has this week come up with a novel take, creating a new regional alliance that it says is the first initiative of its kind to connect both telco and non-telco mobile wallets across borders to create a region-wide payment network that will enable consumers to use their local mobile wallets when travelling. VIA is an alliance between Singtel, its regional associate AIS and Kasikornbank, Thailand’s largest digital bank. It enables Singtel and AIS to now offer QR code-based mobile payments through mobile wallets – Singtel Dash, AIS GLOBAL Pay and Rabbit Line Pay – across both Singapore and Thailand. The Singtel Group says it will progressively expand this alliance to include other regional associates Airtel in India, Globe in the Philippines and Telkomsel in Indonesia, as well as non-telcos including China’s Ping An eWallet.
“The VIA alliance is aimed at unifying Asia’s fragmented payments scene by connecting different mobile wallet systems across the region,” said Arthur Lang, CEO of Singtel’s International Group. “We see a tremendous opportunity to drive the adoption of mobile payments which supports ASEAN’s push towards financial inclusion and vision of a single digital market.”
The QR-code operation is a necessity for mobile wallet operation in many regions, though it is far from ideal. ABI Research has released a report today that says contactless payment cards are forecast to account for over 50 per cent of all cards delivered globally in 2018, as contactless becomes more widely accepted and retailers continue to upgrade their POS equipment. Countries in South East Asia, along with Latin America, have enacted contactless migration mandates, with new POS terminals from Visa and MasterCard to be deployed this month, which should result in significant growth for contactless payments.
“All the indicators are positive for a significant level of contactless migration into these two regions and although demand is yet to materialize, activity and heightened interest from issuers in countries including India, Thailand, Colombia, and the Philippines will likely result in an increase of contactless issuance as early as Q4 2018,” said Phil Sealy, Principal Analyst at ABI Research.
Original Press Release:
Singtel and AIS debut VIA, Asia's first cross-border mobile payment alliance
Singapore, Bangkok, 2 October 2018 – The Singtel Group today launched VIA, its cross-border mobile payment alliance, with its regional associate AIS and Kasikornbank, Thailand’s largest digital bank.
Singtel, AIS will now offer QR code-based mobile payments through mobile wallets, Singtel Dash, AIS GLOBAL Pay and Rabbit Line Pay, across both Singapore and Thailand. These can be used at all merchants displaying the VIA brand and over 1.6 million Kasikornbank merchants displaying the Thai QR code.
The VIA alliance is the first initiative of its kind to connect both telco and non-telco mobile wallets across borders to create a region-wide payment network that will enable consumers to use their local mobile wallets when travelling. The Singtel Group will progressively expand this alliance to include other regional associates Airtel in India, Globe in the Philippines, Telkomsel in Indonesia, working within each country’s regulations, and non-telcos including China’s Ping An eWallet, owned by Ping An Insurance Group.
Mr Arthur Lang, CEO of Singtel’s International Group said, "This is a game changer for the Singtel Group and the region. The VIA alliance is aimed at unifying Asia’s fragmented payments scene by connecting different mobile wallet systems across the region. As more people travel around the region, we want them to be able to enjoy the ease and familiarity of using their local mobile wallets abroad. VIA will enhance the payment experience for millions of consumers including our Group’s customer base of more than 700 million. We see a tremendous opportunity to drive the adoption of mobile payments which supports ASEAN’s push towards financial inclusion and vision of a single digital market.”
In 2017, there were more than 80 million tourist arrivals across the Singtel Group's markets in Asia. Of this, over 1.5 million visitors travelled between Singapore and Thailand and the numbers are expected to grow steadily.
Mr Somchai Lertsutiwong, CEO of AIS said, “AIS is collaborating with Singtel and Kasikornbank to proactively drive the cashless society forward. We place great importance on the continued development of services to meet the growing demand for mobile payments. This partnership offers Thais a seamless digital payment experience at home and abroad, and adds a new dimension which will take the cashless society to the next level. AIS would like to thank all strategic partners and business operators who realise the importance of a cashless society for uniting to create the VIA service. Led by Kasikornbank, Central Group and a wide range of shops from famous brands to medium and small stores, more than 1.6 million participating merchants nationwide are ready to welcome Singaporeans visiting Thailand. The VIA alliance will promote Thailand's tourism in the digital era and is in line with the government's digital economy policy based on Thailand’s 4.0 model.”
Mr Yuen Kuan Moon, CEO, Consumer Singapore, Singtel, said, “We are extremely excited to give Dash customers the ability to use their wallets in Thailand and soon, even more countries in the region. Now, our customers not only stay connected with our mobile roaming service when overseas, they also have a roaming wallet which they can use to make purchases while abroad. The best thing is – with VIA, they don’t need to change the way they use Dash at home or abroad. We will continue to forge strategic partnerships and innovate the Dash wallet to make it the most inclusive all-in-one mobile wallet for our customers.
VIA provides a transparent, seamless and secure way for travellers to use their mobile wallets to pay in their home currencies at competitive exchange rates when in Singapore and Thailand. This frees them from the hassle of carrying foreign currency and incurring cross-border transaction fees. For small and mid-sized merchants, who may not accept credit and debit cards, adopting VIA can be more cost effective, and can also expand their customer base. VIA is open to other mobile payment apps which will gain instant access to the merchant and customer bases of alliance members across the region. VIA works with TransferTo as a payment platform partner.
Have local wallets, will travel
With over half a million registered users, Singtel Dash is the only all-in-one mobile payments solution in Singapore that allows users to commute, shop and send money locally and overseas. It is available to everyone, regardless of telco or banking relationship or device model.
When in Thailand, customers can use Singtel Dash for entertainment, purchasing food and beverage and goods at shops displaying the VIA logo and Thai QR code. This includes popular shopping malls such as CentralWorld, Chatuchak Weekend Market, MBK Center, and JJ Mall, and a wide range of shops from famous local brands to small and mid-sized stores. To make purchases, customers can simply scan the merchant’s QR code or let merchants scan their unique QR code in the Dash app.
The VIA service is accessible to more than 42 million LINE chat users in Thailand. Among them are over 5 million Rabbit LINE Pay users who just need to download AIS GLOBAL Pay to use the e-wallet feature on Rabbit LINE Pay when in Singapore. Customers can pay for taxi rides, services or dining at thousands of merchant points, including Comfort Delgro, Singapore’s largest taxi company, KFC, Pizza Hut, Breadtalk and 7-Eleven.
To celebrate the launch of the service between Singapore and Thailand, Singtel Dash is offering a slew of perks that include a 10% cashback on all Singtel Dash payments made in Thailand and S$5 for 1GB of data roaming in Thailand for Singtel customers. AIS GLOBAL Pay is offering a THB100 real-time cashback for Rabbit Line Pay users on their first purchase of more than THB100 in Singapore.
 Source: Tourism boards and ministries of destination countries
 Capped at S$5 per customer.
Stay up to date with the latest industry developments: sign up to receive TelecomTV's top news and videos plus exclusive subscriber-only content direct to your inbox – including our daily news briefing and weekly wrap.