​UOB claims region's first real-time cross-border mobile number funds transfer

The Singaporean bank sent payments between bank accounts linked to mobile phone numbers.

The United Overseas Bank (UOB) has announced the successful completion of a cross-border peer-to-peer funds transfer trial using mobile phone numbers.

The bank said its proof of concept, touted as a first for the Asean region, saw real-time payments made and received between bank accounts linked to account-holders' respective mobile phone numbers.

As part of the trial, multiple funds transfers were conducted between a UOB Singapore account and a UOB Thailand account, using the phone number as a proxy for their bank account number.

According to the bank, prior to its trial, peer-to-peer funds transfer services were only available for intra-country transactions.

"Our ability to be agile and swift to test innovative ways of making payments simpler, smarter, and safer for customers is possible because of our investments in an integrated real-time payment system built across our network," UOB managing director and Head of Banking Technology, Group Technology and Operations Graeme Greenaway said in a statement.

"The cross-border, peer-to-peer funds transfer POC is a good showcase of this, as the transactions are enabled through the capabilities of our payment infrastructure."

UOB said it plans to broaden the proof of concept to some of its other Asean markets, exploring adding further features, such as QR capability.

UOB's announcement follows financial messaging service SWIFT last month announcing the successful testing of its new instant cross-border payments proof of concept, alongside banks from Australia, China, Singapore, and Thailand.

SWIFT said the trial, announced in August, successfully demonstrated that by enabling gpi in real-time domestic systems, payments can be effected almost instantly, even when they involve domestic settlement and non-gpi banks.

The trial used Australia's New Payments Platform (NPP), which allows for the transfer of money from one person to another in near real-time, using an email address or phone number -- a PayID -- rather than the traditional BSB or account number process.

In a bid to unify Asia's fragmented payments scene, Singtel similarly announced the launch of cross-border mobile payment alliance Via last month, 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.


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