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Singapore, Malaysia to Test Cross-Border Payments

The central banks of Singapore and Malaysia say their customers will be able to conduct real-time cross-border payment transfers via a mobile number starting next year.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) announced the project this week, calling it a “phased linkage” of the payment systems run by Singapore’s PayNow and Malaysia’s DuitNow.

The first phase will be launched in the fourth quarter of 2022, allowing customers to make real-time transfers between Singapore and Malaysia using a mobile number.

“The project will enable more seamless payments for the high volume of remittances between Singapore and Malaysia, which reached SGD 1.3 billion ($96 million) in 2020,” the news release said. “It will also cater to travelers between both countries, which saw sizable pre-pandemic traffic of about 12 million arrivals yearly on average.”

After the launch, MAS and BNM say they will “progressively expand” the linkage between the two companies to work in a broader range of features and participants.

The two regulators say they’ll also look into integrating features like distributed ledger technology-based solutions for greater efficiencies in clearing payments between banks.

The two countries say the linkage marks “another significant milestone” in their relationship, and also aligns with efforts to create faster, cheaper and more inclusive cross-border payments.

“Singapore’s remittance corridor with Malaysia is our largest remittance corridor; hence, the PayNow-DuitNow linkage will be an important infrastructure to support cross-border payment needs of individuals and businesses, as well as the growing digital economic activity between both countries,” said Sopnendu Mohanty, chief FinTech officer of MAS.

Read more: Singapore And Thailand Collaborate For Real-Time Payments

Earlier this year, the MAS and the Bank of Thailand’s PromptPay announced they were collaborating to advance real-time retail payments, a joint effort that also involved bankers’ associations from the two companies as well as some retail banks.

Under this system, users of Singapore’s PayNow and Thailand’s PromptPay can transfer up to $1,000 in Singapore dollars ($750) or 25,000 Thai baht ($800) each day between the countries, just by using a mobile phone number.

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