By Laura Zhang
At Grab’s office, guests and reporters were pleasantly surprised by their ‘welcome gifts’ – $10 e-transfered to each attendee’s Grab account, through the very feature being unveiled, GrabPay e-wallet.
Since Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong spoke of e-payment at the National Day Rally, a small wave of e-wallet applications had already come on the scene, with the CEO of Razer publicly proposing to PM Lee on Twitter a nationwide e-payment system (Read more).
Grab, a leading ride-hailing operator in Southeast Asia, offered on 1 November its cashless payment in 25 cash-reliant restaurants and hawker stalls.
“I don’t think RazerPay has an application, do they?” answered Mr Jason Thompson, managing director of Grabpay, to The Independent, when asked whether Grab could win the competitors such as Razer in e-wallet arena.
“GrabPay allows the users to scan the QR codes. We are just reaching to the audience of Grab – about 4 million people in Singapore are the current Grab users, it’s really that simple,” Mr Thompson said.
How does it work?
Watch a simple starter guide for the new feature:
For transactions with merchants, users can scan a merchant’s QR code and key in the amount they wish to pay, then confirm the payment by swiping an icon.
However, it is still unclear the addition of Grab wallet would make the existing battle more confusing and fragmented for consumers, or would simply sort our the mess.
First, what are the other existing e-payment applications?
Last week, e-commerce platform Qoo10 joined the race, saying it wanted its QR code payment system, dubbed QPay, to become the most widely used cashless payment system in Singapore.
DBS PayLah! was one of the pioneering e-wallets with attractive promotion codes of having $5 off whenever referring to a new user each time.
However, as the name suggests, it is exclusively for DBS users.
OCBC Pay Anyone
OCBC Bank had launched its first stand-alone mobile payments app which makes QR code cashless payments available at close to 2,500 Nets terminals.
Currently, the OCBC customer would have to set a passcode to be shared with the friend, which the friend will then have to enter to “unlock” and receive the funds into his own account, regardless of bank.
Last week, e-payment stalwart Nets launched NetsPay app, describing it as a digital version of ATM cards. The app allows users to tap their mobile phones on a contactless payment reader or scan a QR code to complete their transactions. It allows users of multiple major banks to enjoy the feature. According to Nets, the app was downloaded more than 6,400 times on launching day, potentially becoming the most preferred e-wallet in Singapore.
However, the payment experience is inconsistent across phone types, and it only supports debit card methods, not credit card transactions. Just hours after NetsPay was officially launched on Friday (Oct 20), the new mobile wallet app was hit by a glitch that affected some DBS and POSB users, adding much to the confusion and disappointments.
Why GrabPay Wallet?
Although comparisons should not be made hastily as GrabPay, along with other e-wallets, have not been fully stabilised and effectuated like how WeChatPay functions in China, a few take-aways are still observable:
- GrabPay does not require an additional app to be downloaded, existing app does suffice;
- E-payment feature does not need to be activated for all Grab users who have enabled GrabPay (Grab reports read more than 70 per cent of Grab users pay via GrabPay for their rides)
- QR codes scanning makes transactions easier and faster, especially for cash-reliant hawker stalls.
- It supports credit cards and debit cards, GrabPay Credits, other forms of digital payments such as Alipay, Android pay and mandiri-ecash which is popular in Indonesia.
- Users will also be able to earn GrabRewards loyalty points through their use of the e-wallet. GrabRewards include discounts and vouchers for shopping and Grab rides.
However, e-payment by GrabPay is only applicable in Singapore so far. But Grab confirms it will launch the GrabPay wallet across Southeast Asia in 2018.
Grab’s goal is to have 1,000 merchants using GrabPay by the end of the year. The long-term focus for the company is to target the 20,000 odd merchants in Singapore, as well as businesses across Southeast Asia, who still prefer to use cash.
Merchants will not have to pay transaction fees for the first six months using GrabPay, but in the long-term, charges will be imposed, reckoned by Mr Thompson.
“with the launch today, we’re actively, heavily investing,” said Tan Hooi Ling, co-founder of Grab.