​Singapore's UOB launches instant digital card issuance

By the end of October, United Overseas Bank cardholders will be able to apply for, receive, and use a new credit card issued digitally through their smartphones.

Singapore-based United Overseas Bank (UOB) has launched instant digital card issuance, allowing existing UOB credit cardholders to apply for, receive, and use most of the bank's credit cards through the UOB Mighty app by the end of October.

According to the bank, the "world first" instant digital card issuance capability allows UOB customers to use the newly issued card within minutes of requesting it.

"Consumers today want hassle-free modes of payment anywhere, anytime. We've all been in a situation where we are at a supermarket or restaurant offering promotions for a credit card we don't hold and wish we had that card right then," Dennis Khoo, head of personal financial services Singapore at UOB, said in a statement.

"With instant digital card issuance, UOB cardmembers can apply for and receive a digital credit card in minutes and use it immediately to enjoy its benefits."

On Tuesday, the National Australia Bank (NAB) announced its customers would too soon be able to instantly use newly approved personal Visa credit cards, with a digital contract feature enabled in its new mobile banking app.

NAB said in a statement that the in-app feature had not been seen anywhere else in the world, with it allowing approved customers to instantly use their new credit card through NAB Pay for contactless transactions less than AU$100, negating the need for a physical card.

"This is a whole new platform for a new era of NAB mobile banking," NAB executive general manager of consumer lending Angus Gilfillan, said. "Our new app will be fast and seamless, and has been designed to make banking as convenient and easy as possible for our customers."

The new NAB banking app will allow for users to switch off certain card functionality, such as temporarily block cards, turn off online shopping, disable PayWave functionality, and prevent cash withdrawals from ATMs.

UOB also announced that by the end of September it would be rolling out Southeast Asia's first near field communication (NFC) contactless automated teller machine (ATM).

The bank said this feature would enable customers to withdraw cash by tapping their smartphones, with MasterCard credit and debit cardholders using Apple Pay pencilled in to be the first granted access to the service.

Android phone users will have the service enabled using the UOB Mighty Pay app by January 2017. UOB Visa cardmembers will receive the service shortly after, UOB said.

Also by January 2017, UOB expects in excess of 60 ATMs to be in operation, with the bank's current ATMs be replaced by new machines enabled with NFC contactless capabilities by December 2018.

"We have seen monthly mobile contactless payments made on UOB cards grow by more than 20 times since the launch of UOB Mighty last November," UOB's Khoo added.

"Banks must continue to be responsive to customers' changing needs and preferences by embracing innovation and harnessing technology to empower customers to bank even more conveniently."

Apple Pay came to Singapore in April but only for American Express credit card holders. A day later, Samsung announced it too was launching its payment wallet in the city state.

In June, Samsung Pay officially launched in Singapore, teaming up with MasterCard, Visa, Citibank, DBS/POSB, OCBC Bank, and Standard Chartered to start the service.

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