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OCBC joins Singtel's regional mobile payments network

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OCBC Bank’s chief operating officer, Ching Wei Hong (left), and CEO of Singtel's International Group, Arthur Lang, signed a memorandum of understanding to mark the two companies' partnership.

SINGTEL will expand its VIA mobile payment alliance to include OCBC – the first Singapore bank to join the network and the second regionally, after Thailand’s Kasikornbank.

This will allow OCBC customers to go cashless when they travel to Thailand or Japan, by the first quarter of 2020.

The VIA alliance connects both telco and non-telco mobile wallets across borders, creating a region-wide payment network where travellers can use their local mobile wallets at participating merchants.

Using the OCBC Pay Anyone app, the bank’s customers will be able to make QR (Quick Response) code payments at more than 1.7 million merchant partners on the VIA network, in Singapore dollars and at “competitive and transparent” exchange rates, OCBC and Singtel said in a joint statement on Monday. This eliminates the hassle of changing and carrying cash in foreign currencies.

Users will also be able to top up their Singtel Dash wallets directly via OCBC Pay Anyone from November onwards, according to Ching Wei Hong, chief operating officer at the bank.

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Moving forward, the telco and OCBC will explore linking their rewards and merchant programmes.

“This long-term partnership with Singtel is another key milestone in our journey to drive digital payments adoption among our customers, and address their digital payments needs,” said Mr Ching.

The OCBC app currently enables the bank’s customers to make QR code payments to merchants, and also peer-to-peer electronic payments using QR codes, the recipient’s Singapore mobile number or PayNow, directly from the customer’s bank account.

Arthur Lang, CEO of Singtel’s International Group, said on Monday: “OCBC customers stand to enjoy the ease and familiarity of using their local app for cashless purchases when they travel, in turn boosting the customer base of our VIA merchants.”

Singtel, together with its regional associate AIS and Thailand’s largest digital bank, Kasikornbank, first launched VIA in Singapore and Thailand last October. This enabled QR code payments across both countries through the Singtel Dash, AIS Global Pay and Rabbit Line Pay wallets. In July, the telco also debuted VIA in Japan through the StarPay platform by Netstars.

Other wallets that are joining VIA include Kasikornbank’s K Plus in Thailand, Axiata Digital’s Boost in Malaysia, and LinkAja in Indonesia.

This will grow the alliance to reach 50 million consumers and 2.1 million merchants across Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Japan.

Singtel will continue to expand VIA to include other mobile wallets and banks payment apps in key Asian markets and beyond, the telco said on Monday.

Shares of Singtel were trading at S$3.19 as at 10.49am on Monday, up four cents or 1.27 per cent, while OCBC shares were down one cent or 0.09 per cent at S$10.73.

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