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MAS announces NFIs to have access to FAST and PayNow in Singapore

By Edil Corneille

November 30, 2020

  • Mas
  • Singapore
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MAS, Monetary Authority of Singapore, central bank, FAST, PayNow, open bankingThe Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the country’s central bank, announced today that eligible non-bank financial institutions (NFIs) will have direct access to the banking system’s retail payments infrastructure from February 2021. NFIs that are licenced as major payment institutions under the Payment Services Act will be allowed to connect directly to Fast and Secure Transfers (FAST) and PayNow.

Users of NFI e-wallets will be able to make real-time funds transfers between bank accounts and e-wallets as well as across different e-wallets. Currently, most e-wallets require the use of debit or credit cards to top-up funds, and also funds transfers between e-wallets are not possible.

Businesses that partner any of the 23 FAST or 9 PayNow banks, or e-wallets that have traditionally been closed-loop ecosystems, will soon be able to receive real-time payments from other users of e-wallets or mobile banking applications that will be joining FAST or PayNow.

NFIs will be able to connect directly through a new Application Programming Interface (API) payment gateway developed by the Direct FAST Working Group (DFWG), with guidance from the Singapore Clearing House Association (SCHA) and The Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS), which govern FAST and PayNow respectively. The API payment gateway is said to be better geared to the technology architecture of banks and NFIs, and can also be used by other banks and NFIs in future.

Ravi Menon, Managing Director of MAS said, “Direct access by NFIs to FAST and PayNow closes the last-mile gap in Singapore’s e-payments journey. Consumers who may not have ready access to debit or credit cards to fund their e-wallets will now have the option to do so directly through their bank accounts. Our vision to enable complete real-time payments interoperability will now become a reality. Adoption of e-payments will become even more simple for individuals and businesses. MAS thanks the members of the DFWG for their spirit of partnership that brought to fruition this major milestone for e-payments in Singapore.”

Lawrence Chan, Chairman of Banking Computer Services Pte Ltd (BCS) said, “Since our inception, BCS has worked closely with the financial industry to spearhead large-scale, national payment projects that have enhanced the industry’s service offerings in Singapore. The successful launch of the API payment gateway is a significant milestone for FAST and PayNow, which are the foundation of instantaneous, open and accessible payments. As the operator of FAST and PayNow, we are proud to be part of this ongoing progress of Singapore’s real-time payments infrastructure that will serve as both a catalyst and an enabler for innovative e-payments.”

Ong Ai-Boon, Director of ABS said, “ABS welcomes new participants to FAST and PayNow. This is the first time the industry has opened access to these two important e-payment platforms to non-banks. The move underscores how much ABS member banks have innovated and transformed to prepare for the digital future, and reaffirms our commitment to give customers greater convenience and options. FAST and PayNow adoption rates have exceeded expectations and we are confident that the addition of new players will help accelerate the national path towards a less-cash economy.”

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