Fumbling through your dollar notes or plastic bank cards at the cashier may be a thing of the past as more Singaporeans turn to e-payments.
It’s easy to see why. For one, mobile wallets provide the convenience that cash payments don’t. Some e-wallets are even tagged to local reward programs (including cashback) for you to stretch that dollar.
With contactless payments set to become the new norm in Singapore, we’ve compiled a guide to popular e-wallets in Singapore so that you can pick the best solution for you:
- What’s a mobile/e-wallet?
- How do mobile payments work?
- 8 mobile payment apps in Singapore
- Which mobile payment app should you use?
What’s a Mobile Wallet?
A mobile wallet — also known as e-wallets or digital wallets — is a virtual wallet where you digitally store credit cards, debit cards, credits, and even loyalty cards on your smartphone.
Long gone are the days you have to carry a thick wallet around. With an e-wallet app on your smartphone, you can securely send, receive, and store money, plus pay for your online and offline shopping.
How Do Mobile Wallets Work?
Once you download the mobile wallet app on your smartphone, you can typically tap your phone or scan the relevant QR codes displayed at the cashiers in shops.
Most (though not all) merchants accept some form of contactless payment now. You can identify the digital wallets merchants accept via the various contactless symbols displayed at cashiers.
Mobile Payment Apps / E-Wallets in Singapore
There are many mobile wallets in the market, but they generally fall into two categories: bank-based mobile wallets and non-bank mobile wallets.
The best wallet for you is:
- widely accepted islandwide,
- easy to use,
- and especially one that’s accepted by merchants you personally frequent.
Here’s a summary table comparing 8 mobile payment apps in Singapore:
|Payment App||Type||What you need||Benefits|
|DBS PayLah!||Bank-based e-wallet||DBS/POSB digibank account or SingPass MyInfo account||PayLah! DealsShop, eat, book shows, and pay bills all on one platform|
(formerly UOB Mighty)
|Bank-based e-wallet||UOB account||Dining, shopping, and travel deals|
|OCBC Pay Anyone||Bank-based e-wallet||OCBC savings or current account or OCBC online banking account||Cardless withdrawals at ATMs — simply scan the QR code at OCBC terminals|
|FavePay||Non-bank-based e-wallet||Credit card, debit card, GrabPay, or DBS PayLah!||Merchant rebates and discounts|
|Google Pay||Non-bank-based e-wallet||Credit card, debit card, or PayNow (DBS/POSB, OCBC, Standard Chartered) for transferring money||Send payments with its chat function|
Collect scratch cards for cashback
|Apple Pay||Non-bank-based e-wallet||Credit card or debit card on Apple device||Rewards from issuing bank (no additional rewards)|
|GrabPay||Non-bank-based e-wallet||Credit card, debit card, or PayNow for top-ups||Earn rewards points|
|Singtel Dash||Non-bank-based e-wallet||Local bank account, credit/debit card, or OCBC Pay Anyone for top-ups||Earn rewards points|
Bank-based Mobile Wallets
As more people adopt digital wallets, the main banks in Singapore have also created their own e-wallet solutions.
Named the “World’s Best Digital Bank,” DBS would be remiss if it didn’t adopt digital payment solutions. Its e-wallet app DBS PayLah! is one of the most accepted mobile wallets in Singapore. This means you can shop and spend at a wide range of merchants locally.
Plus, you don’t actually need a DBS/POSB bank account to use PayLah. But if you have one, you can send and receive money directly from your bank account using the app’s auto-debit function.
With DBS PayLah! you can:
- Send or receive payments using just a mobile phone number (no need to enter bank details)
- Split bills with friends via the app
- Pay at shops using QR codes or payment links
- Scan to Pay at NETS terminals
- Send WhatsApp notifications to send or request money
- Enable auto-debit from your linked bank account for when there is an insufficient mobile wallet balance
Additional perks include insurance cover for your phone and travel insurance.
One drawback is that you cannot send money to recipients who don’t have PayLah! or PayNow. But this is a minor drawback considering almost everyone in Singapore probably has either (or both) accounts.
Also, note that if you send money via PayLah! to a recipient without a PayLah! wallet but with a registered PayNow number, the funds will be in the recipient’s PayNow linked account.
Remember that you can use the mobile wallet only for SGD transactions within Singapore.
Also widely accepted in Singapore, the UOB TMRW (formerly UOB Mighty) mobile wallet stands out for its weekly deals. You’ll need a UOB account to access this e-wallet though.
UOB TMRW lets you:
- Manage your UOB bank accounts, spending, and payments via the app
- Complete transactions seamlessly. Transactions are directly linked to your UOB accounts, so you don’t need to transfer cash to an e-wallet
- Enjoy dining and lifestyle deals from over 3,000 restaurants in Singapore
- Enjoy new Rewards+ deals every Friday. All you have to do is browse the available coupons and download them for use
- You can send funds to a UOB account or another bank account or card via the app. Alternatively, you can also send and receive funds using a mobile number or NRIC via PayNow
- Transact in multiple currencies, including Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia
OCBC Pay Anyone
If you bank with OCBC, you can take advantage of the OCBC Pay Anyone app to transact at many partner merchants, including shopping malls, restaurants, and cinemas across Singapore. The biggest perk of the e-wallet is that it lets you withdraw cash at the ATM without a bank card.
With OCBC Pay Anyone, you can:
- Pay anyone with a QR code, mobile number, or NRIC
- Withdraw cash at ATMs using only your QR code (no card needed)
- Transact directly as your e-wallet is directly linked to your OCBC bank accounts
- Request payment and bill splitting functions
- Enjoy discounts at a wide range of merchants like cinemas, restaurants and wellness and beauty
One downside is that currently, the OCBC Pay Anyone app can only be used for SGD transactions within Singapore. There’s also a daily transaction limit of $1,000.
Non-Bank Mobile Wallets
On top of the digital wallets offered by major banks in Singapore, you can also choose a range of non-bank mobile wallets that support both credit and debit cards. We recommend only using reputable e-wallet brands.
FavePay is a fast and easy way to pay with your smartphone and get instant cashback. It’s not as widely available as DBS PayLah!, but you’ll find a decent selection of merchants (especially F&B establishments) that accept FavePay.
- Users get cashback (up to 50% at over 10,000 shops) or discounts when they use FavePay at selected merchants
- Users don’t have to store any money in-app. Instead, they can link the Fave app to their credit/debit card, GrabPay, or DBS PayLah!
- There’s a massive and regularly updated number of offers and cashback deals, so it’s a good option for reward-optimisers
But note that you cannot send or receive payments via FavePay.
Google Pay is another popular digital wallet here in Singapore. It’s designed to be convenient and is compatible with many cards from Singapore’s major banks. You’ll need to link your existing cards or payment methods to your Google Pay account.
With Google Pay you can:
- Scan and pay via the PayNow QR code
- Tap and pay in-store at more than 80,000 checkout counters
- Pay for public transport rides by tapping your Android smartphone at the gantry
- Send money to anyone via PayNow when you link Google Pay with your DBS PayLah! account, OCBC bank account, or Standard Chartered Bank account
Google Pay users know that the best part about the mobile wallet is the weekly scratch cards you can collect when you transact using the app. The virtual scratch cards unveil various amounts of cashback.
Plus, any funds you receive (e.g. cashback, referral bonuses, and transfers from friends) will go straight to your bank account via PayNow.
Apple Pay is specifically for users of Apple products. This e-wallet is quite basic compared to Google Pay: it’s mainly for you to make contactless purchases.
Most major Singaporean banks are compatible with Apple Pay, so you should be able to link your card with the app to pay at most stores. You can set up Apple Pay on your iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch.
- Apple Pay works anywhere that takes contactless payments — from vending machines and grocery stores to taxis and train stations
- Apple Pay does not offer its own rewards, but you’ll still get the usual rewards from the cards you linked your account with
Ride-hailing company Grab has its own mobile wallet, GrabPay. You’ll have to top up the e-wallet through a credit/debit card or through PayNow. Despite this, it’s been touted as one of the most popular e-wallets in Singapore, possibly because of its additional ride-hailing and food delivery functions.
- You can pay for Grab rides and GrabFood deliveries and also for in-store purchases at merchants displaying the GrabPay QR code
- There are a limited number of partner merchants, but each eligible transaction earns you GrabRewards points that you can use to redeem rewards (like points to offset your Grab rides)
- There’s also a GrabPay Card, which can be used just like a debit card at places that accept Mastercard (which is almost everywhere)
- You can now transfer funds from your GrabPay wallet directly to a bank account, other e-wallets, registered PayNow users, as well as other GrabPay Wallet users in Singapore
Singtel Dash is a mobile wallet by local telco Singtel. Like GrabPay, it’s an e-wallet that requires top-ups using a credit or debit card before you make any payments.
You can use Singtel Dash locally and abroad. A unique perk is that Singtel Dash lets you remit money to Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and the Philippines.
With Singtel Dash, you can:
- Pay for public transport in Singapore
- Earn Dash Rewards for every dollar spent at partner merchants
- Send money to your friends locally. But note that if your friends do not have a Dash account, the money will be returned to you after 7 days
- Remit money overseas
Singtel Dash itself is not widely accepted, but you can still use the Singtel Dash app to pay at the more widely-accepted FavePay merchants. This also allows you to stack both FavePay discounts/rebates AND Dash Rewards.
Which Mobile Payment App Should You Use?
The best mobile app for you depends largely on your bank account, smartphone model, and shops that you frequent.
If you dine out quite a lot, the widely-accepted FavePay is a good option. It’s popular because it is not just a payment method but a discount app of sorts.
Google Pay is another popular option for many because it supports both credit/debit cards and PayNow functions, thus eliminating the need for multiple apps. The scratch cards are a bonus.
Just remember that mobile wallets are only as good as the digital surroundings they’re in. While mobile payment is fast picking up in Singapore, many neighbourhood shops still prefer cash. E-wallets may also be prone to technical glitches or network delays. So while e-wallets are convenient at most merchants, cash still has a spot in our wallets — for now.