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Non-Bank Financial Institutions to have Access to FAST and PayNow in Singapore

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced this week that eligible non-bank financial institutions (NFIs) will have direct access to the banking system’s retail payments infrastructure from February 2021.

This applies to non-bank financial institutions that are licenced as major payment institutions under the Payment Services Act, they will be allowed to connect directly to Fast and Secure Transfers (FAST) and PayNow.

FAST is an electronic funds transfer service that enables customers of participating entities to transfer Singapore dollar funds from one entity to another instantly.

PayNow is an overlay central addressing service that runs on top of the FAST payment system. PayNow allows consumers and businesses to make instant payments across accounts using a proxy such as a mobile number, NRIC/FIN number, or Unique Entity Number (UEN). FAST and PayNow is also available 24/7, 365 days of the year.

Direct connection to FAST and PayNow will enable users of NFI e-wallets 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 funds transfers between e-wallets are not possible.

Mr 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.”

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. This will enable businesses to access a larger market of consumers than before for receiving e-payments instantly and seamlessly.

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 better geared to the technology architecture of banks and NFIs, and can also be used by other banks and NFIs in future.

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