PayNow, PayLah! And Pay Anyone: How To Use CONTACTLESS Payment In Singapore Like A BOSS

Never again will your friends be able to escape paying for their share of the dinner bill by claiming they’ve got “no cash”!
14 May 2020


Banks in Singapore have been aggressively marketing peer-to-peer payment services that let you make payments and transfer money using your mobile phone.

And due to the Covid-related social distancing measures, contactless payment is perhaps safer and more convenient than ever.

Trouble is? Singapore’s three most popular services have horribly similar names. How is PayNow different from PayLah! – and what about the other one, Pay Anyone?!

Find out the differences between the three options, and then start transferring money on your phone like a pro.


PayNow is a funds transfer service that allows users of nine banks to transfer cash in SGD to anyone else who has an account with one of these 9 participating banks: DBS/POSB, UOB, OCBC, Citibank, HSBC, Maybank, Standard Chartered, BOC and ICBC.

PayNow technology makes it possible to pay someone simply by entering their phone number or NRIC/FIN number, provided they create a PayNow profile and link up their phone/NRIC/FIN numbers with their bank accounts.

But that’s not all. You can also pay merchants (e.g., hawkers and taxi drivers) displaying QR codes.

If you’re a business owner or self-employed, you can also receive payments from your clients via PayNow. You can even technically receive salary payments and insurance claims via PayNow, although many businesses and insurers have not adopted it yet.

You can sign up for PayNow online through your internet banking account. Doing so will link your bank account to your mobile number and NRIC number.

To change your PayNow account, you first need to go into the ibanking portal of the bank that it is currently linked with to de-link it. Then, go to the new bank portal’s PayNow page to link it again.

DBS PayLah!

DBS PayLah! is a mobile wallet which can bedownloaded as an app onto your smartphone.

You don’t have to have a DBS/POSB bank account to use PayLah!, but if you do, you can send and receive money directly from your bank account using the app’s autodebit function.

If you’re using PayLah! with an account from another bank, you need to transfer money to and from the PayLah! Wallet using internet banking. When you make payment to someone, you have to make sure your wallet is topped up. Quite troublesome, right?

Luckily, PayLah! now supports PayNow. This means that you will be able to transfer funds to all accounts (whether DBS/POSB, or other banks) using PayLah! even if the recipient only has PayNow and has not registered for PayLah!

Other than the above, PayLah! lets you pay by scanning a QR code, which is supported by an increasing number of merchants, including some taxis and hawker/food court stalls.

You can also use PayLah! to pay for purchases made on online stores with which they have tie-ups. These include Qoo10, ChopeGolden Village, SISTIC and more.

Our experience is that since PayNow is more ubiquitous than PayLah!, and not every merchant accepts PayLah!, you may find leftover cash in your wallet. No worries, you just have to go into your DBS PayLah! app, go under Manage Wallet > Transfer to Account to send money back to your POSB bank account.

OCBC Pay Anyone

Just like DBS PayLah!, OCBC Pay Anyone is a mobile app that allows you to transfer and receive funds, as well as make payments to merchants.

The main difference is that Pay Anyone is targeted at OCBC customers. While you don’t need a DBS/POSB account to use PayLah!, you do need an OCBC account to use Pay Anyone.

Transactions are directly deducted from and credited to users’ OCBC savings or current accounts. Therefore, it isn’t an e-wallet per se, and you don’t need an extra step of withdrawing money out of there.

Pay Anyone also lets you send money to people using their email address or Facebook ID. If the person doesn’t have the app, they will receive a link via email or Facebook, and they just need to click on it and key in their own bank details to receive the funds.

That aside, Pay Anyone works similarly to PayLah! and also supports PayNow, so you can also send money to PayNow-registered people via through their mobile or NRIC/FIN numbers, whether or not they have an OCBC account.

So which payment method should you use?

PayNow is the least restrictive payment method as pretty much anyone can use it. It’s also integrated in the major banks’ mobile banking apps, so you don’t have to download yet another app.

However, if you are an avid movie-goer, you you might want to download DBS PayLah! as well, because this platform has the up to $3 off at GV theatres (unfortunately, you won’t be able to cash in this perk until after the circuit breaker on 1 June or beyond).

They used to have more promo codes when they first launched, but most those have ended.

What other alternatives are there?

PayNow, PayLah and Pay Anyone aren’t the only mobile payment options open to Singapore residents.

You can also use Google PayApple PaySamsung Pay and Singtel Dash to make payments to individuals and/or businesses.

In addition, service providers are starting to provide their own mobile wallet payment methods – like GrabPay and FavePay.

The main difference is that you can link your credit cards to them (instead of your bank accounts). That also means that when you spend using these apps, you can take advantage of credit card benefits like cashback and air miles.

Many credit cards reward you for paying with contactless payments, too.

By Joanne Poh, Text adapted from MoneySmart, Singapore’s leading personal finance portal that helps you to maximise your money, January 2020 (Compare and shop for the best deals on Loans, Insurance and Credit Cards on now! Like it on Facebook to keep up to date with the latest news and articles.) 

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