Google partners with Singapore banks to enhance payment apps

Photo by Nathan Dumlao

OCBC Bank announced on 11 November 2019 their partnership with Google to bring a refreshed Google Pay app to Singapore in January 2020. The partnership will enable OCBC Bank customers to be the first in Singapore to make account-to-account PayNow fund transfers using the enhanced features of Google Pay.

Google Pay is Google’s payments app, and Singapore is the second country to launch the enhanced version after it was introduced in India in 2017. Google Pay significantly increased the adoption of India’s inter-bank payments system, United Payments Interface (UPI). UPI is similar to Singapore’s peer-to-peer transfer service, PayNow.

The integration of Google Pay and PayNow is forecast to significantly impact the adoption and usage of PayNow in Singapore. The Singapore government has urged Singaporeans to go bigger on e-payments in a National Day Rally speech in 2017, the year PayNow was launched in Singapore.

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The service is currently in beta-testing phase and select OCBC Bank customers will be able to link their bank accounts to make digital payments

Mr Ching Wei Hong, Chief Operating Officer at OCBC Bank, said: “The potential of Google Pay leveraging PayNow is tremendous and will provide our customers the benefits of secure, seamless and ubiquitous payments without having a wallet.”

He announced that a private beta had been launched and live transactions already fired. “From January 2020, our customers will be the first in Singapore to be able to link their bank accounts to Google Pay to make digital payments,” he said.

Mr Ching concluded that “in today’s digital world, building ecosystems of partnerships and going beyond traditional banking products is critical. This is a bold move which I believe will have great impact and bring significant scale to PayNow by expanding payment journeys for consumers.”

Mr Caesar Sengupta, Vice President of Payments and the Next Billion Users initiatives at Google, also expressed satisfaction at the partnership, crediting OCBC with providing “insights and expertise on payments, leveraging the national payment rails in Singapore.”

On the same day, DBS also announced plans to launch Google Pay services with DBS PayLah! by early 2020. DBS’ collaboration with Google includes the integration of both peer-to-peer (P2P) and peer-to-merchant (P2M) transaction services. The integration will allow DBS PayLah! customers to send and receive funds and also pay merchants via Google Pay using a single-click sign-up.

Han Kwee Juan, Chief Strategy Officer at DBS Bank, said that this move promises greater convenience to consumers as they will have more options to transfer funds and make instant payments to a wide range of merchants in Singapore.

“This collaboration demonstrates our commitment towards building wholly seamless, intuitive services for our customers and is in line with our plans to ramp up our ecosystem partnerships regionally,” he added.