UOB enables mobile money transfers

Singapore bank United Overseas Bank launches first mobile app on Apple's iOS platform to enable users to withdraw and transfer money via their mobile devices, among other services.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor on

SINGAPORE--Local bank United Overseas Bank (UOB) launched its first-ever mobile app, which allows customers to withdraw and send money to others without having to use an automated teller machine (ATM) card. It is touted to be the first such service here, said executives.

Wendy Teo, head of channels for group retail at UOB, revealed during a media briefing that customers will be able to download the UOB Mobile iOS app from the Apple App Store on Monday. It is looking to release apps for the Android and BlackBerry mobile platforms, as well as a mobile Web version, early next year, she added.

The app, which took about six months to complete, will feature services that can be found on the bank's Internet banking portal but also have the capability to allow cardless cash withdrawal, which is a first here, according to Michael Ong, senior vice president at UOB, who attended the same briefing as Teo.

Additionally, users can also send money to both UOB and non-UOB customers via the app--another first--he stated. As part of its security measures, the executive pointed out that people will need to register details of the recipients through the Web portal before such mobile transactions can be approved, though.

Elaborating on the process for mobile money transfers, Ong said users can select from a list of recipients on their app and specify the amount to be transferred. The sender will also need to create a six-digit, one-time password (OTP) and inform the recipient of the password. Once the sender completes the transaction on his end, a reference number will be sent to the recipient's mobile phone via SMS.

The recipient can now go to a UOB ATM machine and input both the password and reference number, after which another OTP will be sent to his handset. Once this OTP is keyed in, the recipient will be able to withdraw the transferred funds from the machine, he explained.

To safeguard users' accounts, they can only send money to up to five recipients and a maximum of S$500 (US$389.75) per day, Ong said. This service will appeal to users who accidentally left their wallets and ATM cards at home, or those who wish to send money to family and friends in need, he added.

Going by internal figures that show two out of three UOB customers are registered Internet banking users, the company expects many of them will use the app too.

Quizzed on why UOB chose to develop an iOS app first, Ong said more Singaporeans own Apple's iPhone device over other platforms, though he acknowledged Android to be more popular worldwide. He added that developing for Android is slightly more complicated as the app will have to fit the many different screen sizes of devices that are powered by Google's mobile operating system.

The senior vice president also did not elaborate on how the bank plans to protect the app against mobile malware other than to say that UOB had built the app based on "stringent requirements" set by local regulators, and will make efforts to prevent the app from being compromised.

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