Singapore-Thailand pact lets users send money cross-border via mobile number

Cross-border digital payment deal will allow users in both countries to transfer funds of up to SG$1,000 ($753.4) or THB25,000 ($793.96) using the recipient's mobile number.

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Singapore and Thailand have inked a bilateral agreement that enables users in both nations to transfer funds using the recipient's mobile number. The pact taps the respective country's peer-to-peer payment systems and is part of a regional payment initiative to ease cross-border payments. 

The new partnership helped establish connectivity between Singapore's PayNow and Thailand's PromptPay platforms, to enable fund transfers of up to SG$1,000 ($753.4) or THB25,000 ($793.96) using mobile numbers. Touted as the first of its kind globally, the deal was the result of "years of extensive collaboration" between the two countries' central banks, according to a joint statement released by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Bank of Thailand (BOT).

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Customers of participating banks in both countries would not be required to provide information such as the recipient's full name or bank account, needing only a mobile number to facilitate the cross-border payment. The service would work in the same way PayNow and PromptPay transfers were carried out, with senders tapping their mobile banking or payment apps to make peer-to-peer fund transfers. 

Such transactions typically are completed within minutes, rather than an average of one to two working days for the usual cross-border remittance services. 

Banks participating on both platforms had pledged to set their fees against market rates, according to MAS and BOT. "The fees will be affordably priced and transparently displayed to senders prior to confirming their transfers," they said. "Senders will also be able to view the applicable foreign exchange charges prior to sending their funds, with these rates benchmarked closely to prevailing market rates."

The connectivity between PayNow and PromptPay was part of efforts initiated under Asean Payment Connectivity, which was set up in 2019 to drive faster, cheaper, and more transparent cross-border payment pacts. 

The new Singapore-Thailand digital payment deal would continue to expand to include more participants and offer bigger transfer limits to facilitate business transactions, both countries said.

BOT's governor Sethaput Suthiwartnarueput noted that PromptPay also supported QR-enabled cross-border payments with Japan, Lao PDR, Cambodia, and Vietnam. "Today's PayNow-PromptPay linkage...will effectively address customers' long-standing pain points in the area of cross-border transfers and remittances, including long transaction times and high costs," Suthiwartnarueput said.

MAS' managing director Ravi Menon added: "[The partnership] shows that existing payments infrastructure and the banking system have the potential to provide seamless cross-border payment options to retail customers.

"MAS' shared objective with BOT is to work with our Asean counterparts to expand this bilateral linkage into a network of linked retail payment systems across Asean. With the rise of the digital economy, we want to empower individuals and businesses in the region with simple, swift, and secure cross-border payments through just a few clicks on their mobile phones," Menon said.

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