Have you noticed you carry fewer notes and coins, not because you are poorer but because you don’t need much hard cash to pay for goods or services? Now, you use an e-wallet with a mobile phone to buy and pay.
Singapore is on the path towards a cashless society, especially after COVID-19. “With cash, there is always a risk of theft and loss, whereas digital payments can be protected with encryption and authentication measures,” said Mr. Zennon Kapron of Forbes.
The use of e-wallets to make purchases makes payments faster and more convenient. Suddenly, life becomes more accessible! But you should learn and choose the best e-wallets before use.
What are E-Wallets and How Do They Work?
“E-Wallets are a key part of the digital transformation of the financial services industry,” Mr. Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England (from 2013 to 2020), once said of the technology.
E-wallets are digital and mobile platforms storing your payment information, such as your credit cards, debit cards, and bank accounts, and allowing you to receive and make payments. It serves as another payment option instead of physical cards or cash.
An often-heard term “mobile wallets,” used interchangeably with e-wallets most of the time, differs from an e-wallet. E-wallets refer to digital applications used on devices like desktop computers (without contactless technology) and mobile devices like mobile phones, tablets, and smartwatches. In contrast, mobile wallets are used on moveable devices like mobile phones, tablets, or smartwatches.
It takes simple steps to begin using e-wallets:
- Register and link with an account: Download an e-wallet app from an Apple or Google store and create an account with your personal information. Next, link up an e-wallet account with your bank account, credit card or debit card.
- Tokenization: An e-wallet converts and encrypts your account information into a unique token. Your e-wallet securely stores your account information and uses a new identifier as a replacement.
- Process payments: When purchasing, you choose an e-wallet to pay; the e-wallet forwards the token to a merchant payment terminal instead of your financial information. If you link up one account or above, a pre-specified primary account will be a primary payer.
- Security verification: Most e-wallets require extra security authentication to safeguard transactions, likely to include passwords, PINs, and biometric authentication such as facial recognition, fingerprint, or one-time verification codes (OTPs.)
- Account management: An e-wallet allows users to track payment history, change passwords or a primary payment account (if multiple accounts are linked), and other settings.
What are the differences between an E-Wallet and a Debit Card?
The table below illustrates the differences between an e-wallet and a debit card:
|Venues for uses
|Used with computers, mobile devices
|Used in stores, online or ATMs
|Linked with credit card accounts or bank accounts
|Tied with a bank account and sums deducted from a bank account
|Measures such as encryption and authentication
|Passwords and chip technology
Pros and Cons of E-Wallets
“E-wallets have the potential to disrupt the traditional payment industry,” said Mr. Mike Keegan, CEO of Stripe.
- Convenience: E-wallets eradicate the need for physical cards or cash, making it convenient for payments. Users make payments with a single tap, improving the shopping or payment experience.
- Contactless technology: Mobile e-wallets offer contactless shopping and a fast, hygienic, secure, and smooth process with a simple tap on a payment terminal while checking out.
- Tokenization: E-wallet encrypts your personal information, so you can keep your financial or other data from other parties, including merchants while making payments.
“E-wallets are susceptible to technical glitches and software updates which can disrupt payment processes and inconvenience users,” says Ms Gil Luria, Senior Analyst at Forrester Research. E-wallets are not without their drawbacks besides the advantages.
- Overreliance on technology: A breakdown of technology is still probable. Technical glitches, software updates, and device malfunctions may curb further use. Furthermore, regular technical issues may cause annoyance and frustration.
- Privacy concerns: E-wallets collect and store personal information about your transaction history and spending patterns for service improvements, likely causing privacy issues if the developer does not handle data appropriately.
- Security risks: Despite E-wallets having vigorous security measures to prevent unauthorized access and data breaches, sometimes systems can become targets for data theft due to vulnerable or weak spots.
Categories of E-Wallets in Singapore
The table below summarizes categories and examples of e-wallets in Singapore:
|These e-wallets require a link-up with a bank’s accounts and pay via accounts
|DBS PayLah!, OCBC Digital, UOB PayNow
|These e-wallets do not directly link up with a bank but require one to top up an account with a financial institution before use.
|FavePay, GrabPay, NETSPay, SingTel Dash, WeChat Pay,
|These e-wallets are applications from stores of mobile phones
|Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay
11 Popular E-Wallets in Singapore
The details below elaborate on the features and limitations of 11 e-wallets in Singapore:
1. DBS PayLah! – Best for DBS Customers
- Fast and convenient payment: DBS Paylah! supports speedy and handy payments both online and in-store. Simply tap on a merchant’s payment terminal or scan a QR code to make easy payments at specified local and overseas merchants.
- Earn cashback and rewards: Clients earn cash rebates and other rewards offered by DBS PayLah!’s promotions and partnership programs.
- Vast acceptance network: DBS PayLah! has a broad network of merchants accepting its e-wallet, including restaurants, department stores, supermarkets, and online stores.
- Limited to DBS/POSH accounts: DBS PayLah! accepts only DBA/POSH accounts, reducing its popularity with other non-DBS/POSH customers.
- No overdraft facility: The e-wallet does not offer overdraft protection to customers, so they should manage their budgets for a prudent spending plan.
- Theft: DBS PayLah! is susceptible to theft or data leaks. Users should take precautionary measures to prevent losses and make contingency plans in case of losses.
2. OCBC Digital – Best for Multi-Banking Users
- User-friendly interface: OCBC offers non-technical users an effortless experience by navigating its easy and user-friendly interface so that they can focus on purchases.
- Comprehensive banking services: OCBC Digital provides a complete suite of banking services, including fund transfers, bill payments, credit card management, investment solutions, and e-wallet services.
- Contactless payments: Combining with Pay Anyone, OCBC Digital offers users one-stop services. By adding the NFC technology to its app, customers can tap or scan a QR code to have a seamless payment experience.
- Technical glitches: OCBC Digital sometimes encounters technical problems or downtime. However, it fixes the glitches without delay.
- No in-person services: OCBC Digital is an online banking suite offering email, live chat, and phone support to customers. Banking clients opting for face-to-face interactions may think of something other than OCBC Digital as a viable banking option.
- Security: Unlike other e-wallets, OCBC Digital provides more banking services besides e-wallet service. A possibility of data theft and fraud may jeopardize clients’ assets, however remote the potential is.
3. UOB PayNow – Best for Uses of Business and Individual
- Free for businesses and individuals: Different from UOB NETS bank cards, a physical card), OCBC PayNow is an e-wallet free for business operations and personal uses, enabling businesses to reduce daily expenses to corporations and conveniences for individuals.
- Vast acceptance network: One advantage of PayNow is that users can use a linked bank account with banks other than OCBC. Therefore, more non-OCBC account holders can become PayNow users.
Besides, OCBC has a broad network of merchants, including dining, entertainment, and travel, which benefit the growing client base.
- Limited payment options: While PayNow’s structure is set for P2P(peer-to-peer) uses, the system restricts certain retail services like recurring bill payments and online subscriptions. Users may have to switch to other e-wallets for these types of services.
- Cross-border restrictions: PayNow is designed for domestic uses rather than international. While users can still send or receive money overseas, they may face issues such as delays and procedures regarding international transactions.
- Security: Similar to other e-wallets, PayNow may face data theft, and leak and is subject to security risks.
4. GrabPay – Best for Fast-Moving Users
- Instantaneous payments: GrabPay facilitates immediate mobile payments between parties. Users can receive, send, or store money quickly, ensuring fast transactions via the app.
- Earn Grab rewards: Users can earn 1.2% in Grab reward points for each dollar spent with GrabPay and use the points earned on rides, dining, or offsetting other payments from GrabPay.
- Broad acceptance points: GrabPay is growing the number of merchants for the e-wallet. Participants have a wide choice of merchants while using GrabPay to pay.
- Limited international use: GrabPay is an app devised for use in Singapore and the neighboring region. The e-wallet may not be suitable for international payments due to its limited experience in cross-border mobile payments.
- Potential for overspending: Integrating with a credit card system, users are vulnerable to abusive buying or other unnecessary purchases. Proper and prudent spending planning should be in place before using e-wallets.
- Technical downtime: Similar to other e-wallets, GrabPay is likely to face technology issues regarding processing delays due to issues from mobile service providers.
5. FavePay – Best for Reward Lovers
- Cashback rewards: Users can earn up to 20% cashback when paying with FavePay at specified merchants.
- Fave eCards: Participants can earn bonus cashback with Fave eCards.
- Stackable rewards: FavePay holders can earn stackable rewards when using credit cards with FavePay to pay.
- Vast network of merchants: A network of over 40,000 merchants allows users abundant spending choices, covering restaurants, travel, and supermarkets.
- FavePay Later: The e-wallet offers interest-free installment loans to holders, allowing them a worry-free experience by using FavePay Later.
- Limited coverage: FavePay still needs more merchants to grow its business than other e-wallets like PayNow or GrabPay.
- Complicated reward calculations: Cashback is available to participating merchants; moreover, reward rates vary among merchants and lead to calculation complexities.
- Reward coverage: FavePay’s reward programs, like cashback and buy-first-pay-later(for credit cardholders only), are unavailable to all merchants nationwide.
- Customer support: Instant support from FavePay is limited compared to other e-wallets.
6. NETS Pay – Best for Multi-Currency Users
- Multiple payment options: NETS Pay caters to numerous payment options, such as bill payments and online purchases, leading to being a popular choice among e-wallet users.
- Reward program: NETS Pay offers a point-based reward program, allowing customers to earn points on transactions and convert them to cashback or discounts.
- Vast network of participating merchants and advanced technology: NETS Pay provides a network of shopping choices for clients to select their favorites. Like other e-wallets, users can enjoy the exemplary experience of contactless technology or QR code payment options while shopping.
- Multi-currency support: NETS Pay allows users to pay and send in various currencies besides Singapore dollar currencies, like Malaysian Ringgit and Thai Baht.
- Limited international exposure: NETS Pay is a local e-wallet service provider, limiting it to local market experience and businesses.
- Limited promotions: NETS Pay’s promotion program applies to specific participating merchants and may reduce its marketing purposes.
- Limited customer support: NETS Pay provides weak customer support compared to other mobile wallet providers. The lack of solid backup services may lead to a negative effect on its business growth.
7. SingTel Dash – Best for SingTel’s Multi-Product Users
- Integrated with SingTel services: SingTel Dash is combined with a series of SingTel services, such as SingTel Fibre, SingTel Mobile, and SingTel TV. The integration allows clients to better manage SingTel bills and services on a single app.
- Advanced payment options: SingTel Dash allows users to pay bills and purchases online. Besides, customers can use contactless technology on its app to tap and go for spending in-store. SingTel also supports QR code payments at merchants.
- Reward program: Like other e-wallet providers, SingTel Dash offers reward programs to earn Dash Cash and redeem the rewards through discounts and cashback.
- Limited international use: SingTel Dash is an e-wallet for domestic use and is not widely used for international transactions.
- Limited promotions: The promotions are available only to specified merchants and are unlikely to benefit other customers.
- Weak customer support: Weak customer support may not lure and grow its client base.
8. WeChat Pay – Best for WeChat Services Users
- Integrated with WeChat services: WeChat Pay allows holders to use WeChat Moments and WeChat Mini Programs by integrating the services. Users can make payments and manage their WeChat accounts via the WeChat Pay app.
- Reward program: Users can earn WeChat Pay Coins offered by the app to redeem rewards, discounts, and cashback.
- Advanced technology-supported payment options: WeChat Pay supports contactless payment, online payments, and QR code scanning.
- Security: WeChat encrypts and tokenizes clients’ data to protect them from theft and leaks.
- Limited country and region acceptance: WeChat Pay is only available in 49 countries and regions, though the e-wallet is gaining traction in Singapore and Southeast Asia.
- Limited promotions: WeChat Pay offers promotions at specific merchants, limiting its appeal among other customers.
- Security: Like other e-wallets, WeChat encounters security glitches and downtime. Frequent technical problems may make it less attractive to newcomers.
- Limited customer support: WeChat Pay needs more customer support compared with others.
9. Apple Pay — Best for iPhone Users
- Worldwide acceptance: Apple Pay is one of the most popular digital wallets globally. The 85 million merchants worldwide comprise dining, entertainment, retailing, and other service providers.
- Integrated with Apply services: Apple Pay is integrated with many Apple services, for example, Apple TV+, Apple Music, and Apple Store. It makes users better manage payments and Apple accounts from the digital wallet.
- Various payment options: Apply Pay offers contactless technology, so users can use their iPhones or Apple Watches to tap and buy without delay. Besides, Apply Pay also supports online bill payments, shopping, and QR code spending.
- Limited device compatibility: Apple Pay is only available to iPhones, Apple Watches, iPads, and Macs. Non-Apple product users are excluded from Apply Pay.
- Limited promotions: Promotions apply to specific merchants only, leading to reduced appeal to customers.
- Limited customer support: Apple Pay’s customer support is insufficient compared to other providers, like Google Pay.
10. Google Pay – Best for Android Device Users.
- Global acceptance: Google Pay has a worldwide network of over 50 million users in over 200 countries and regions, covering retailing, dining, entertainment, travel, and other services industries and making it the best mobile wallet and one of the most essential mobile wallets in Singapore.
- Excellent mobile wallet services: Google Pay is integrated with various Google services, like Gmail. Google Maps and Google Chrome make payments from these platforms more efficient and convenient.
- Security: Google uses multiple measures, such as encryption, tokenization, and multi-factor authentication, to protect users’ information, transfer money, and secure online payments.
- Multiple payment options: Like other mobile e-wallets, Google Pay offers contactless payments, QR code scans, and online payments, making bill payments and other online purchases faster and more convenient.
- Limited device compatibility: Like Apple Pay, Google Pay is only fully compatible with Android devices, excluding devices of other operating systems.
- Differed services across countries and regions: The mobile wallet services provided by Google Pay vary from country to country.
11. Samsung Pay – Best for Specified Galaxy Model Users
- Integrated with Samsung services: Samsung Pay, Samsung’s mobile wallet solution, is incorporated into other Samsung services, such as Samsung Knox and Samsung Pass, upgrading the security and convenience of Samsung Pay.
- Magnetic Stripe Payments(MST): Samsung Pay’s other advantage is its support of the traditional MST technology. Users can use the mobile wallet to pay at terminals accepting magnetic stripe cards. It leads to more traditional businesses becoming Samsung Pay’s merchants.
- Multiple payment options: Samsung Pay supports contactless payments, QR code scanning, and online payments and purchases.
- Reward program: Samsung Pay offers the “Samsung Rewards,” allowing users to earn points for transactions and redeem them for cashback, rewards, or discounts.
- Limited device compatibility: Samsung Pay is compatible with specified Galaxy models and, thus, limits its usage among other products.
- Limited worldwide acceptance: Like Google Pay and Apple Pay, Samsung Pay varies in popularity across countries and regions.
Additional E-wallet Option
Huawei Pay – Best for Huawei Phone Users
Like Samsung Pay, Huawei Pay can be used in MST terminals. Besides, the e-wallet supports contactless payments, QR code scanning, and online payments and purchases.
However, the e-wallet is only compatible with Huawei’s phones, excluding other brand users.
Read Also: DBS PayLah Vs UOB PayNow
Using e-wallets to make payments and purchases has become a part of our daily lives in Singapore. Among the best choices, we may have to choose one based on our needs, banks, and our mobile phone brands. The top e-wallets are worth further consideration while making the most appropriate choice.
- E-wallets comprise 3 categories: bank-affiliated, non-bank-affiliated, and gadget-based.
- You should choose an e-wallet based on your needs, banks, and mobile phone brands to make the choice.
- The top e-wallets are DBS PayLah!, OCBC Digital, UOB PayNow, Grab Pay, FacePay, NETS Pay, SingTel Pay, WeChat Pay, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay. Huawei Pay is another good option.
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