Singapore's largest telecommunications carrier Singtel has announced the launch of Via, the first cross-border mobile payment alliance in Asia in partnership with AIS and Thai digital bank Kasikornbank.
Via combines Singtel Dash with AIS Global Pay and Rabbit Line Pay, enabling QR code-based mobile payments across Singapore and Thailand. The service will later be expanded to the telco's regional companies Airtel in India, Globe in the Philippines, and Telkomsel in Indonesia.
Singtel said it would also expand to include non-telco partners such as China's Ping An eWallet, which is owned by Ping An Insurance Group.
"The Via alliance is aimed at unifying Asia's fragmented payments scene by connecting different mobile wallet systems across the region," Singtel International Group CEO Arthur Lang said.
"We see a tremendous opportunity to drive the adoption of mobile payments which supports ASEAN's push towards financial inclusion and vision of a single digital market."
Via will remove cross-border transaction fees, with Singtel saying it already has more than 500,000 Singtel Dash users, while Rabbit Line Pay has over 5 million users in Thailand.
While Singtel in August reported losing 47,000 Singaporean mobile customers over the past year for a total of 4.1 million mobile customers, it has a wide potential customer base for an expanding mobile payments system across Asia, with 735.4 million Singtel Group mobile customers including the 10.2 million on Optus in Australia.
As of June 30, Airtel had a total customer base of 438 million -- 344.6 million in India, 91 million in Africa, and 2.3 million in South Asia; Telkomsel a total of 177.9 million; AIS a total of 40.1 million; and Globe a total of 65.1 million mobile customers.
Also experimenting with cross-border payments systems in Asia is SWIFT, which in August announced that it will soon commence testing alongside banks from Australia, Singapore, Thailand, and China.
Participating in the trial are the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, ANZ bank, the National Australia Bank (NAB), Kasikornbank, Bangkok Bank, Bank of China, China Construction Bank, DBS, ICBC, Siam Commercial Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, and United Overseas Bank.
The trial will use the New Payments Platform (NPP), which uses an email address or phone number to transfer money from one person to another in near real-time, rather than relying on BSBs or account numbers.
The Singtel Group had 735.4 million mobile customers as of June 30, despite losing 47,000 mobile subscriptions across Singapore during the past year.
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