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OCBC collaborates with UnionPay QR to expand cross-border payment options

Douglas Toh
Douglas Toh • 4 min read
OCBC collaborates with UnionPay QR to expand cross-border payment options
The handy new feature allows for fuss-free transactions courtesy of UnionPay QR. Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/The Edge Singapore
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From Aug 4, OCBC customers will be able to use their OCBC Digital app to make retail payments to UnionPay QR-enabled merchants in 47 markets from their OCBC Singapore bank accounts.

The streamlined process eliminates the need to download, set up and fund third-party payment apps or to queue for currency exchange, a handy change that comes in time with the recent resumption of the 15-day visa-free entry for Singaporeans to Mainland China, where merchants rarely accept payment cards or cash.

With a daily transaction limit of $1,000, payments will be made directly from customers’ OCBC Singapore accounts, where the exchange rate will be shown to customers on the OCBC Digital app before they confirm their transactions.

Welcomingly, there will be no additional fees or charges.

The feature comes about given the rising popularity of QR code payments globally and will be especially useful in markets where payment cards and cash are declining in popularity.

This scan-and-pay feature is the result of an agreement signed between OCBC and UnionPay International (UPI) in April, and is the latest cross-border payment collaboration for OCBC.

See also: OCBC expands programme to equip another 10,000 elderly with digital banking skills and scam prevention awareness

The global QR code payment market size is predicted to reach $15.5 billion this year and is expected to surpass $74 billion by the next decade at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.9%, according to a 2023 report by market research consultancy Future Market Insights.

In the last year alone, OCBC has established cross-border payment linkages to enable peer-to merchant transactions with Malaysia’s DuitNow QR and Thailand’s PromptPay QR.

OCBC’s head of global consumer financial services Sunny Quek says: “Digital payments are the way forward. We use it for everyday transactions, but now, even when we go overseas, we expect to enjoy that same convenience. Thanks to UnionPay’s extensive network, our customers can now pay in many markets with the same OCBC Digital app that they are accustomed to — bypassing the need for multiple apps or e-wallets and empowering them to pay merchants overseas as easily as they already do in Singapore.”

See also: OCBC launches accelerated banking career programme for 500 polytechnic students over next three years

He continues: “This tie-up will be especially beneficial to our customers who are travelling to Mainland China for work or pleasure. We expect QR payments to be the primary mode of payment for retail purchases of smaller value. With travellers between the two areas expected to increase with the restoration of the visa-free facility and major upcoming events like the Hangzhou Asian Games, we believe customers will appreciate this seamless payment method.”

Meanwhile, Singapore country manager at UnionPay International, Carine Low, adds: “With more residents in Singapore embracing mobile payment as a fast, secure and seamless way to pay, we are pleased to embark on this digital partnership with OCBC. This partnership enables customers using their OCBC Digital App to pay in Singapore and 46 other markets, saving them the hassle of using clunky foreign currencies. This collaboration with OCBC will significantly improve our service and product offerings for residents and businesses in Singapore.”

Come September, the OCBC Digital app will also be enhanced to enable OCBC customers to generate a scannable QR Code in which UnionPay merchants will be able to scan for payment-related processes.

The practice, known as the “customer present mode” is common in several markets, including Mainland China. It comes in addition to what is available from Aug 4, the “merchant present mode”, where customers use their OCBC Digital app to scan a QR code generated by merchants.

The feature will also enable business banking customers to accept UnionPay QR payments via OCBC’s OneCollect digital merchant collections solution. OCBC OneCollect helps businesses collect four payments digitally from customers via QR codes and sends automated notifications with each successful transaction, providing peace of mind for businesses.

Currently, over 100 mobile wallets outside Mainland China are UnionPay QR-enabled. Users of these mobile wallets can pay businesses that use OneCollect simply by scanning the UnionPay QR code.

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