HSBC has joined the Nets payment network as it strives to expand its retail presence in Singapore.
Effective Tuesday, HSBC debit cardholders will be able to make Nets payments at 87,000 acceptance points island-wide. In particular, drivers and commuters will be able to top-up their cash cards and MRT cards easily.
HSBC is the latest foreign bank after Standard Chartered Bank and Maybank to offer its debit cardholders this payment capability, Nets said on Monday.
"This allows HSBC debit cardholders to tap into Singapore's most widely used payment network, with 10 million cardholders," said Nets.
Citibank remains outside the Nets network among the foreign banks here with a significant retail presence.
Citibank customers currently have access to various alternative payment channels, via Visa and Mastercard terminals at retailers, said Peng Chun Hsien, Citibank Singapore head of merchant business, networks & emerging payments.
"We continue to evaluate and access new payment modes. Hence, we are unlikely to immediately expand on the existing payment network options," said Mr Peng.
The Nets Debit service was launched in 1986 to enable participating banks' cardholders to pay for purchases electronically at the point of sale.
The network has played a key role in promoting e-payments across all sectors including taxis, retail, groceries and bill payments.
Eighty per cent of retailers in shopping centres and 60 per cent of neighbourhood retailers accept Nets.
As well, being on the Nets network mean drivers and commuters can easily top up their cash cards. HSBC debit cardholders will now be able to use their debit cards to top up their cash cards at top-up stations in carparks. They can also use their HSBC debit cards to top up their MRT cards at all the transit points.
Jeffrey Goh, Nets chief executive, said HSBC debit cardholders can now pay for purchases electronically at all Nets acceptance points across the island, including top-up stations at all carparks and transit stations.
Matthew Colebrook, HSBC Singapore head of retail banking and wealth management, said joining Nets "is a significant milestone for HSBC's retail banking business in Singapore".
"The launch of Nets elevates HSBC to primary bank status in Singapore as our customers will have access to Nets' entire transaction points in which to pay their bills and make cash withdrawals and, therefore, levels the playing field with domestic banks in the market," said Mr Colebrook.
"HSBC's strategy for retail banking in Singapore is to increase market share among affluent and aspirant Singaporeans and those with international needs," he said.
Earlier this month, HSBC said Singapore will remain one of the group's priority markets in its pivot to Asia strategy as part of an overall plan to reduce costs and reverse declining profits.
HSBC aims to "become the leading international financial services provider in Singapore" in the long term, it said. It will locally incorporate the retail business here, focus on the affluent segment and expand its private banking business to capture cross-border wealth flows.