Pay cable TV, phone bills via SMS in S'pore

Singaporeans may soon be able pay for their cable TV and telephone bills using SMS or Short Messaging System. This is the type of service the Network for Electronic Transfers Singapore Pte Ltd (NETS) hopes to roll out from August 1, when it launches the NETS Virtual Card.

SINGAPORE--Singaporeans may soon be able pay for their cable TV and telephone bills using SMS or Short Messaging System.

This is the type of service the Network for Electronic Transfers Singapore Pte Ltd (NETS) hopes to roll out from August 1, when it launches the NETS Virtual Card.

The new card will allow users to pay for their online purchases and bills from a "virtual" debit card. Virtual Card works in the same way as a physical CashCard, only without a smartcard reader, NETS claimed.

The new service promises bill payment simply by sending an SMS with the following information to vendors:

1. User ID
2. Bill number
3. Amount due
4. Service provider's name

The amount due would then be debited from the virtual card, a NETS spokesperson said when contacted. When the card's value is depleted, users can choose to top it up through GIRO or direct debit from their bank accounts, she added.

Users do not have to buy additional hardware or software to enjoy the convenience.

Registration for the service starts August 1 on NETS' Web site. Upon registration, users would get a user ID and a PIN number, which can then be used to authenticate payments.

The card will be offered free to consumers in the first year, according to a company statement Thursday.

No further details are available as NETS is expected to make a formal announcement end-July, the spokesperson said.

She added that talks have begun with retailers and network operators--including Singapore Cable Vision, Singapore Telecommunications Ltd, Golden Village Cinema, StarHub Internet, Sunpage, Cold Storage and Pacfusion.com (Singapore)--to offer the NETS Virtual Card.

These companies are currently participating merchants in the NETSCash scheme, which allows online shoppers to pay via CashCards (and requires a smartcard reader).

As the virtual card does not need a smartcard reader, payments over the Web can be made by first downloading an e-wallet client.

NETS is an online debit payment service provider owned by DBS Bank, OCBC Bank Group, Overseas Union Bank, Keppel TatLee Bank and United Overseas Bank.

As of last month, about 5.5 million CashCards have been issued on the island state. The main application driving the adoption here is the Electronic Road Pricing system.

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