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Axiata mobile wallet joins Singtel's e-payment network

THE digital services arm of Malaysia's Axiata Group has signed on to Mainboard-listed telco Singtel's plans for a cross-border electronic payments network, in a tie-up announced on Wednesday.

Axiata Digital's Boost Malaysia wallet will now join the VIA alliance, which Singtel launched in October 2018 alongside Thai associate telco AIS and Kasikornbank to support fuss-free regional e-payments.

The new partnership adds Boost's 3.7 million customers and 66,000 merchant outlets to VIA, which now accepts payments made between the Singtel Dash e-wallet and AIS Global Pay. Dash has more than 500,000 registered users, Singtel has said, but it could not put a number to AIS Global Pay users.

This is Dash's first foray into a non-associate market, although Singtel had previously said that it planned to roll out VIA across regional associates in Thailand, India, the Philippines and Indonesia. It had also named the e-wallet from China's Ping An Insurance Group as a potential non-telco partner, and The Business Times (BT) understands that talks with other potential partners are also under way.

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Arthur Lang, Singtel's international group chief, said in a statement that the deal with Axiata Digital "gives us presence in an important new market".

"This shows the tremendous potential for us to grow cross-border mobile payments even beyond the countries where Singtel's regional associates operate," he added.

Mohd Khairil Abdullah, chief executive of Axiata Digital, added: "Boost's merchant base is growing at a strong pace and we're looking forward to serving Singtel's e-wallet users when they visit Malaysia.

"At the same time, we are also excited to potentially help drive revenue growth for our merchant partners, who can now benefit from having our neighbours across the Causeway visit their outlets."

Boost, which was launched in January 2017, is "on the path to monetisation or validation" as at end-2018, according to presentation slides from Axiata Group's most recent full-year earnings briefing.

Before Singtel, Boost had already snagged Chinese financial services company UnionPay as a global partner, Axiata Digital announced in July 2018. The aim is for Boost users to be able to pay at UnionPay terminals both in Malaysia and elsewhere, including in Singapore.

Under the latest memorandum of understanding, Singtel will also work with Axiata Digital's application programming interface platform Apigate, to add the capabilities that will bring more product and service providers onto Singtel's Open Platform digital payment gateway.

Open Platform lets mobile customers across Singtel's regional group shop online and pay through either direct carrier billing or mobile wallets from the appropriate telcos.

Axiata Digital's parent Axiata Group recently sold its 28.7 per cent stake in Singapore-listed M1 for RM1.65 billion (S$547 million), in a general offer led by Keppel Corp and Singapore Press Holdings, which publishes BT.