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Singtel announces initiative for cross-border interconnectivity of mobile wallets

Singtel announces initiative for cross-border interconnectivity of mobile wallets

Singapore’s largest mobile network operator, the Singtel
Group, has announced
plans to interconnect mobile wallets across different ecosystems through an
interoperable platform. This will be the first time that different mobile
wallets across different markets are connected to offer seamless cross-border
payments at physical merchants.

Singtel’s Open Platform, a group-wide payment gateway,
already enables the Group’s mobile customers to make purchases online using
direct carrier billing or their respective telco mobile wallets. Now the mobile
wallet interconnectivity will allow customers to make cashless payments using
their existing home wallet app at retailers when travelling overseas.

The Group plans to start with linking the mobile wallets of
Singtel and its regional associates. It will start with Thailand’s largest
mobile operator, Advanced Info Services Public Company Limited or AIS.
(Singtel has been a strategic partner to AIS
for over 15 years. It holds
21%
in Intouch Holdings, which owns 40.45% of AIS.
Another 23.32% of AIS is held by Singtel Strategic Investments Pte Ltd.
Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, Temasek holds 52% of Singtel.)

The commercial launch of the service is planned for mid-2018
between Singapore and Thailand, where Singtel and AIS have obtained regulatory
clearance. This will enable over 1.5 million visitors travelling between
Singapore and Thailand each year to use Singtel
Dash
and my AIS apps at a
total of more than 20,000 retail merchant acceptance points in Singapore and
Thailand.

Singtel Dash users travelling to Thailand will be able to
open the Singtel Dash app to generate a QR code at any participating AIS mPAY
merchant to scan. Consumers will see the transaction amount in both foreign and
home currencies before payment. This will help travellers avoid the hassle of
physically carrying cash and the uncertainty of foreign exchange costs.

Singtel’s initiative to expand the Group’s mobile wallet
services will enable the Group's more than 590 million mobile customers to
securely and conveniently pay with their mobile wallets when they travel in
Asia.

During 2017, there were more than 80 million tourist
arrivals into Singtel Group's markets in Asia. Many small merchants remain
unbanked in this region but smartphone penetration is high. Hence, mobile
payments can provide a simple and secure alternative to travellers.

Other mobile payment apps can, in future, plug into the
platform and gain ready access to the Group’s merchant and customer bases
across the region.

The Group plans to progressively expand this service from
the second half of 2018 to other regional associates, which include Airtel in
India, Globe in Philippines and Telkomsel in Indonesia, taking into
consideration the respective country’s regulations.

Mr Arthur Lang, CEO of Singtel’s International Group said,
"The mobile payments scene in Asia today is fragmented with many different
systems and this poses a challenge to the adoption of mobile payments. As a
Group, we believe we can bring about change through our cross-border
interoperable platform and collaboration with like-minded partners. Our
vision is to unlock the growth potential of mobile payments in the region by
providing customers with a convenient, seamless experience, and helping small
merchants widen their reach to millions of consumers."

“With our customers' digital lifestyles and the growth in
intra-region travel, it is a natural progression for us to take our local
mobile wallets regional first, by leveraging the strengths and reach of the
Singtel Group in Asia,” Mr Lang added.

“We are excited about launching this cross-border payment
capability through AIS. The interconnectivity enhances AIS, offering our
customers greater convenience and ease in transacting with their Rabbit Line
Pay wallet within my AIS app when they travel to Singapore,” Mr Somchai
Lertsutiwong, CEO of AIS, commented.

“Cross-border mobile wallet interoperability is crucial to
the digital economy and will further support our government in promoting
financial inclusion for the Indonesian people. Today’s announcement is a
significant step in the right direction. Once we obtain regulatory clearance,
we can provide TCASH customers greater convenience whether they are transacting
locally or overseas, and give our local merchants new income opportunities from
regional travellers.”

This initiative from Singtel is in line with Singapore’s
objective to enhance domestic and regional e-payments interconnectivity. E-payments
is among the current national
strategic projects 
in Singapore’s Smart Nation plans and multiple
initiatives
 have been announced in the area.

At the Singapore FinTech Festival in 2017, Mr. Ong Ye Kung,
Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) and Second Minister for
Defence, said
that the largest merchant acquirer in Singapore, NETS, will establish a
framework to enable cross-border payment linkages with the National Payment
Corporation of India or NPCI.
NETS is working with NPCI to allow NETS payments at all 2.8 million RuPay point
of sale terminals in India. Conversely, a RuPay customer can use his RuPay card
or RuPay-enrolled mobile phone to pay at any NETS acceptance point in
Singapore.

In addition, local banks, UOB and DBS have made
inter-connection arrangements with UnionPay, which is the dominant payment card
platform in China. UOB or DBS UnionPay Cards can be used at all UnionPay
terminals in China.