Paying with Android Pay on LG G5 at the terminal

Singapore is the second country in the world to support smartphone E-Wallets from all 3 players – Android Pay, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay – using mobile devices for credit card payment. From a commercial and technological standpoint, it is a great deal for Singapore, putting the country in the spotlight along with USA, UK and South Korea, at the forefront of consumer technological adoption.

While Singapore is not the leading country in cashless commerce, it is one of the top countries in online commerce. I suppose it is easier to implement e-wallet since we are a smaller country with very well-established infrastructure for fast deployment. Now, it’s up to the consumers to make it work and be a great case study for the world.


Few years ago, Singapore already launched NFC-enabled mobile SIM with e-wallets for ezlink and NETS. That did not take off very well because of limited hardware compatibility. This time round, the chances of adoption should be higher, because with Android-Apple-Samsung Pay, it practically covers all smartphone base. As long as your phone has NFC, it should work. And, to entice consumers to try out this new method of payment, banks and merchants have tied up with promotions and rebates. My wife is one such beneficiary, as she received a Samsung NFC wireless charger for being the first 500 to make payment using Samsung Pay. For me, the promotion enticed me to install Android Pay even though I already have UOB Mighty, so yes, giving promotion does entice me.

The current promotions with Android Pay are:

DBS card – 25% rebate for first 5 transactions per customer up to $10 rebate amount, limited to first 10,000 customers.
Standard Chartered card – 20% rebate up to $50 rebate amount per customer, limited to first 5,000 customers.
OCBC card – 5% rebate up to $10 rebate amount.

The current promotion with Apple Pay is:

DBS card – 20% rebate per customer up to $10 rebate amount, limited to first 50,000 customers. Till 24 Aug 2016

Samsung Pay promotions are available in-app and changes regularly.

Eligibility and Activation

Not all banks in Singapore work with smartphones. Android Pay supports all Singapore banks (DBS/POSB, OCBC, UOB) and Standard Chartered. Apple Pay supports all Singapore banks, Standard Chartered, and American Express. Samsung Pay supports DBS/POSB, OCBC, Standard Chartered, and Citibank. UOB is left out of Samsung Pay because UOB has its own UOB Mighty app. Between Android Pay and Samsung Pay, Samsung Pay is able to work with magnetic stripe card terminals, so you can decide what works better for you.

For consumers who are regular users of e-banking and online shopping, the registration process for the 3 payment types should be quite familiar. Upon entering all the necessary credit card details, the banks will trigger an SMS to the registered mobile number to authenticate. Once the final step is done, the smartphone is ready to pay.

Where to Use It

Not every merchant and cashier knows whether their terminal supports Android Pay, Samsung Pay or Apple Pay. The rule of thumb is: if there is a terminal that supports MasterPass or PayWave, they will support the e-wallet platforms. Samsung Pay has an added capability of using it at magnetic stripe card terminals (MST).

When You Have Multiple Tap-and-Pay Apps

Being one of the early adopters of UOB Mighty, the first local bank to launch credit card e-wallet via smartphone, I am already familiar with such methods of payment. As a techie, it’s good to experience technology. However, I will not use that as a primary payment method. No matter what Android/Apple/Samsung Pay says, it is still easier to pay using a plastic card. There is no need to press anything, activate anything, enter any PIN.

This morning, I installed Android Pay and tried to use it while buying my Toast Box breakfast. Instead, the smartphone pulled out the UOB Mighty app and asked for authentication, a pre-requisite for UOB Mighty app before I can use the e-wallet. I fumbled, because I wanted to use Android Pay, but I was unable to force my phone to use Android Pay. I was holding up the queue and I couldn’t revert to paying cash because the cashier has already selected “Contactless Credit Card” as payment mode. With a quick thought, I took out my physical credit card and tapped it on the reader. Transaction success.

I knew what the problem was: my phone has 2 “Tap and Pay” apps, but UOB Mighty was set as the default app. Hence I had to change the default app, but I couldn’t do it swiftly at the cashier. So after I finished my warm breakfast, I went to the phone (LG G5) and updated. And when I tried again during lunch time, the payment was successfully made by Android Pay.

Select the default Tap and Pay app on your Android device

No doubt, consumers will face user issues if they embrace this method of payment. Frankly, I don’t expect many people to be tolerant of tech flaws and the ability to adapt. Instead of just fixing the problem, I think it is important to educate them on why it happens, so that when it happens again, they know how to resolve it themselves. Easier said than done, because understanding the problem requires a bit of tech-sense.

During Loss of Smartphone

I am sure you will be wary of security concerns about making the smartphone become an e-wallet. Potentially, if you lose your phone, someone could make payment with your phone. Android Pay is the only app that does not require additional authentication, but the loss is limited to 3 consecutive transactions and capped at S$100. While it is a valid concern, my guess is that we would guard our mobile phones more tightly than our wallets, don’t we? But if in the unfortunate event of a mobile phone loss, don’t panic. Here is what you should do to disable the smartphone.

1. Go to to remove the payment methods.
2. Go to to track your mobile device and remotely disable or wipe the data.

Similarly for Apple Pay, you can remotely delete the wallet from iCloud, though it is not possible for casual users to pay without your fingerprint authentication.

For Samsung Pay, again it requires authentication to activate the payment. Plus, you can use “Find My Mobile” similar to Google to remotely disable the phone.

Your actual credit card details are not found on these apps, because the banks use a separate virtual number to register these virtual wallets.

But what about skimming of credit card information? Well, this problem already exists today on your plastic credit cards that support VISA PayWave, MasterCard PayPass, so if you are not doing anything to protect your wallet, the e-wallet on your smartphone is the least of your concern. Skimming is actually not possible because the smartphone does not emit any information until an authorised machine requests for it, in this case, the card reader at the cashier.

Explaining the above does not mean the technology is fail-safe. We often make decisions after assessing facts and risks. In this case, I feel the risk is low, while the convenience is high. But isn’t I contradicting myself when I earlier mentioned it is more convenient to use my plastic credit card? Well, there will be times when you forgot to bring your card, perhaps when you go for a morning run, or you left your wallet in the car (often happens to ladies with huge purses). Plus, you might leave some credit cards at home because you rarely use them yet they come in handy for merchant benefits. With Android/Apple/Samsung Pay, you can register the cards on your phone and leave them at home.

In a Nutshell

Here are the key points to this article if you have skipped the lengthy article to read this:

  1. Singapore is the third country in the world to support Android Pay, and second in the world to support all 3 e-wallet payment methods from Android, Apple and Samsung.
  2. When you use your smartphone e-wallet to pay, you can enjoy discounts and promotions from merchants and banks.
  3. E-Wallets are useful to store credit cards and use them conveniently, without having to dig them through your wallet, or carry them with you all the time.
  4. Your credit card information is not stored in the E-Wallets and cannot be easily skimmed.
  5. You can easily disable E-Wallets remotely from websites in case of smartphone loss.

I recommend everyone to try out this technology if your smartphone supports, to experience the convenience. After all, it is free to try, and what’s more there are rebates and promotions to enjoy. It is also hassle-free to add and remove cards. If you like the experience, do share with your peers. If you don’t like it, you can delete the E-Wallet and revert back to your current payment method, and share your thoughts with us, under the comments below.

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