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Real-Time Payments in Singapore, Thailand & India: Understanding the Varying Approaches

The worldwide adoption of ‘fast payments’ or ‘real-time payment’ systems started to draw attention in the early 2000s due to its value proposition of quicker and continuous service availability for low-value transactions. A real-time payment system is defined as an instantaneous, irrevocable, and continuously available system that can facilitate higher volumes of transactions at a fraction of the cost for the end user.

South Korea’s electronic banking system was the first one to launch fast payments in 2001, followed by Chinese Taipei, Iceland, Malaysia, and South Africa over the next five years. None of these are major/developed economies. The UK became the first advanced economy to launch faster payment systems in 2008.

Two of the largest countries in the world – China (IBPS) and India (IMPS) adopted real-time payment systems in 2010, and the number of countries has continued to grow since then. One should not be confused by Japan’s Zengin system that was (launched in 1973) originally an RTGS system but has evolved its functionality over six generations of advancements and now aims for a truly real-time system.

Things are changing, and the APAC region is steadily but surely headed the real-time way when it comes to payments. According to Gautam Aggarwal, CTO (Asia-Pacific) at Mastercard, “Some countries in Asia, particularly India, Thailand, and Singapore, are already leveraging the potent ...

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