QR Code Payment Linkage Between Singapore, Malaysia Goes Live

April 4, 2023
The central banks of Malaysia and Singapore have announced that a new QR code payment linkage between the two countries is now live, in another win for regional connectivity.

The central banks of Malaysia and Singapore have announced that a new QR code payment linkage between the two countries is now live, in another win for regional connectivity.

In a joint announcement, the central banks of Malaysia and Singapore confirmed that a QR code linkage for person-to-merchant (P2M) payments between the two countries is now live.

The linkage connects Malaysia’s DuitNow QR code system with NETS QR, its Singaporean counterpart, allowing consumers in one country to pay merchants in the other using a unified standard.

Travellers will be able to use the QR code linkage for in-person payments, and online shoppers will also be able to use it for cross-border e-commerce payments.

Upon launch, participants from Malaysia will include AmBank, Boost, CIMB and Touch ‘n Go, while participants from Singapore will include UOB, DBS Bank and OCBC Bank.

Shamsiah Mohd Yunus, governor of Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), said the linkage will help to reduce costs and friction for merchants and consumers on both sides of the border.

“The QR linkage between Malaysia and Singapore will benefit millions of commuters across the Causeway as well as business and leisure travellers,” she said, and will be a "boost to retail businesses".

According to BNM, 12m trips are made annually by Singaporeans and Malaysians who cross the Johor-Malaysia Causeway from one country to the other.

Yunus added that the linkage is a “significant step” towards ASEAN’s long-term goal of delivering fast, efficient and interconnected retail payment systems throughout the bloc.

This goal is enshrined in the 2025 Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity, and is complemented by the G20 Roadmap for Enhancing Cross-Border Payments.

In November last year, five ASEAN nations signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on cooperation in regional payment connectivity (RPC).

Under the MoU, the central banks of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand committed to expanding bilateral payment linkages and working towards a common QR code area.

Going forward, the BNM and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said they aim to launch a cross-border linkage for person-to-person (P2P) instant payments by the end of 2023.

This would allow instant payment users in either country to receive funds from a counterpart over the border using a single unique identifier such as a mobile phone number.

For Malaysia, the tie-up with NETS QR is the country’s third major cross-border payment linkage, following similar partnerships with Thailand and Indonesia.

Last year, Malaysia launched a QR code linkage with Indonesia’s QRIS standard for P2M payments, and in June 2021 Malaysia launched a QR code linkage with Thailand’s PromptPay for P2M payments.

Singapore takes lead on cross-border linkages

For Singapore, the launch of the DuitNow-NETS QR code linkage is the country’s second major cross-border payments linkage of 2023.

In February, Singapore announced that its PayNow instant payments system is now linked to UPI, its Indian counterpart, allowing for virtually cost-free account-to-account transfers from one country to the other.

As reported by VIXIO, the UPI-PayNow linkage will be subject to transaction limits on both sides during its early stages, but these are set to increase over time.

To begin with, users can remit up to ₹60,000 or S$1,000 ($750) each day using the instant payments linkage.

Last year, Singapore also announced plans to launch a QR code linkage with Indonesia’s QRIS standard, which is set to go live in the second half of 2023.

Previously, in April 2021, Singapore and Thailand became the first two countries in ASEAN to go live with a bilateral payments linkage, connecting the PayNow and PromptPay instant payment systems.

At the time of the launch, Ravi Menon, managing director of the MAS, said the PayNow-PromptPay linkage is “only the beginning”.

“Our shared objective is to work with our ASEAN counterparts to expand this bilateral linkage into a network of linked retail payment systems across ASEAN,” he said.

“With the rise of the digital economy, we want to empower individuals and businesses in the region with simple, swift and secure cross-border payments through just a few clicks on their mobile phones.”

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