Real-Time Payments Provide Huge Opportunity for Economic Growth
Singapore recorded 256 million real-time transactions in 2021 which resulted in an estimated cost savings of $105 million for businesses and consumers. This in turn helped to unlock $375 million of additional economic output, representing 0.10% of the country’s GDP.
With real-time transactions set to rise to 603 million in 2026, net savings for consumers and businesses are forecasted to climb to $231 million. That would help to generate an additional $616 million of economic output, equivalent to 0.14% of the country’s forecasted GDP.
According to the Cebr, the theoretical impact of all payments being real-time could add 2.1% to formal GDP by 2026. However, these are theoretically modeled benefits; they do not suggest that there is no place for non-instant electronic payments or paper-based payments in the future.
Singapore has two well developed real-time payment systems. The first is FAST, which was launched in 2014. FAST is an interbank funds transfer service that enables customers of participating banks to transfer funds from one bank to another. Its second is PayNow, which was launched in 2017. PayNow is a P2P instant funds transfer service built on existing FAST infrastructure. Electronic payments (excluding real-time payment transactions) are the main payments tool in Singapore, representing a 40.1% share of total payments spend, while real-time payments had 23.3% of the market share in 2021. But real-time payments are expected to overtake electronic payments (excluding real-time payment transactions) by 2026, as they will reach 54.8% market share of total payments spend, while electronic payments will fall to 27.8%. The Monetary Authority of Singapore is actively working on expanding the reach of PayNow by linking its platform to other real-time payment platforms in the region. In 2021, it linked PayNow to Thailand’s PromptPay, which enabled cross-border transactions between both countries. Further platform linkage is expected for 2022 as it is planning to make similar connections with India’s UPI and Malaysia’s DuitNow. Due to the developing inter-regional linkages between real-time payment systems — which Singapore is heavily involved in — there is high growth potential both for the domestic and cross-border market in the near term.
Real-Time Payment Types
Year of Real-Time
Despite a high reliance on debit, credit and charge cards, Singapore has taken to real-time payments with enthusiasm, leveraging the PayNow system for low-value consumer payments of all kinds. The Monetary Authority of Singapore is committed to cross-border expansion of PayNow and has concluded reciprocal interconnections between PayNow and the real-time payment systems in Thailand. Further connections are planned with Malaysia and India in 2022.
With a population of just 5.7 million, connections to international markets via a stable high-value cross-border payments infrastructure is essential to Singapore’s economy and to the long-term growth prospects for real-time payments. To that end, the market’s banks are around two years into a wide-ranging modernization of these systems, with most now focused on transforming disparate legacy systems to converge low-value and high-value payments onto a single, ISO20022- compliant platform.
Unlike the infrastructure they’re replacing, which tends to be a single vendor’s software installed in a bank’s data center, this new generation of payment hubs will be a collection of best-in-class services aligned to a wider payments strategy. Their role will be a demanding one, simultaneously expected to cost-effectively service both legacy systems and modern payment types and standards. As such, solving for these challenges in the present and ensuring they are less of an issue in the future will require cloud-native, services-based architectures, deployed either in the private or public cloud as regulations dictate. And that will demand partners well-versed in supporting an ecosystem of technologies that can be combined and reconfigured in response to regularly changing requirements.
Looking further ahead, Singapore is one of the region’s most active drivers of Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) trials. One example is its participation in the Project Dunbar trials of CBDC cross-border payments between Australia, Malaysia and South Africa. Although these developments have a long time horizon before they enter into common use, financial institutions’ payments modernization strategies must reflect the fact that retail and wholesale CBDC payments are a likely feature of the future of payments.
Mobile Wallet Trends
% of adults who have a mobile wallet and have
used it in the past year (2021)
Real-Time Total Participants
Population Banking Level
Number of debit, credit and
charge cards per adult
Index to global average
F5 Yr CAGR
Payments Fraud Rate
Population who reported being a
victim of fraud in the last 4 years
Top 3 Payment Fraud Types
|% of fraud victims||Trend|
Card details stolen online
Card details stolen/skimmed in person
Share of Volumes by Payments Instrument
- Paper-based payments
- Electronic payments
- Real-time payments
Real-Time Payments Volume and Its Share in Overall Non-Paper-Based Transactions, 2015-26f
Singapore features among the world’s most competitive economies. It is one of the four Asian Tiger economies and has seen consistently high levels of economic growth over the last four decades. It is a high-income country and ranked the 38th largest global economy in 2021 (Cebr World Economic League Table, 2022).
Of the $105.3 million in consumer- and business-level benefits in 2021, real-time payments generated the largest agent-level economic impact through a reduction in the payments float, which unlocks working capital for businesses. Based on current real-time adoption rates in Singapore, real-time payments unlocked a total transaction value of $866.9 million per day in 2021 through reduced float time. This working capital subsequently facilitated an estimated $74.9 million of business output.
In 2021, economy-wide efficiency gains were estimated to facilitate $375 million of economic output (0.1 % of formal GDP). The country has a reasonably well-established real-time payments infrastructure with the first of two schemes launching in 2014.
Based on current real-time adoption forecasts, real-time payments will account for 15.5% of all transactions in 2026. Total annual realized consumer and business benefits are estimated to more than double to $231 million. Economy-wide output supported by real-time payments is estimated to rise to $616 million in 2026 (0.14 % of forecasted formal GDP), equivalent to the output of 5,122 workers.
For Businesses and Consumers
Net savings stimulated by real-time payments
Projected net savings stimulated by real-time payments
of economic output
of GDP facilitated by real-time payments
Projected of economic output
of GDP facilitated by real-time payments
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