Thailand and Singapore have announced tentative plans to integrate their respective e-payment schemes in a bid to promote digital banking, according to a Bloomberg report.
The initiative, which would be a first in the Asean region, is also being driven by the aggressive expansion of China-based e-payment providers such as WeChat and AliPay which are becoming more prevalent in both Singapore and Thailand, threatening the prospects of their own respective national schemes, PayNow and PromptPay.
“The Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Bank of Thailand are exploring the possibility of a link between the two networks," said Naphongthawat Phothikit, director of payment systems policy at the Bank of Thailand. Discussions are at a preliminary stage, he said, adding that any talk of a timeline would be premature.
Despite trailling the adoption rates in Europe, Asia has become a fertile market for e-payment providers as nations such as India and Indonesia and China look to discourage the use of cash in favour of mobile and electronic payment methods.
Singapore and Thailand still lag some way behind these countries, although the launch of PayNow and PromptPay have helped boost adoption. Thailand has seen the use of mobile and digital payments increase by 140% between 2012 and 2016 and the introduction of PromptPay has seen 24 million people sign up, almost a third of its population, according to figures from the Bank of Thailand.
Growth has been more sluggish in Singapore with just half a million users registered to use the PayNow service, despite the country's ambitions to be a world-leading tech-based economy and its status as a leading fintech hub.