NETSPay, GrabPay, Apple Pay, Alipay and WeChat Pay – What’s the Difference for Singaporeans?

Time and again, we, as Singaporeans, have been reminded of the government and industry’s initiative to make Singapore a Smart Nation, where we can incorporate technology in our daily lives to improve the way we live. One of the strategic projects under this initiative is to drive adoption of e-payments throughout Singapore to make Singapore a cashless society. An integrated, convenient and safe e-payment process could potentially reduce transaction costs for businesses and customer and increase opportunities for companies to reach out to customers.

In Singapore, e-payment options such as credit cards, NETS and our commonly-used ez-link cards are prevalent. Other initiatives taken to increase the adoption of e-payments include the launch of the PayNow service for peer-to-peer funds transfer (the PayNow service for corporate businesses will be launching in the later half of 2018), and the future implementation of the SGQR payment code standard for merchants to adopt.

In recent years, several mobile payment systems have entered the local market and taken the market by storm. With so many options to choose from, it is easy to get confused. In this article, we will take a closer look at some of these mobile payment operators.


Launched in mid-October last year, NETSPayis available on iOS and Android devices, and was one of the most anticipated events in the mobile payments industry due to the wide coverage of NETS acceptance points islandwide. However, it can only be used by DBS and POSB NETS card holders, although there are plans to include other banks in future.

How to use: Download the app, register your NETS cards on the app, and start paying using the app either by tapping on a contactless terminal or scanning a QR code. 

Who can use: DBS and POSB card holders

Where you can use: Convenience stores, cinemas, F&B outlets, hawker centres, tertiary school canteens, retail outlets, ComfortDelGro taxis, wellness and beauty outlets and hospitals. (For the full list of merchants, please refer the NETS’ website.)


GrabPay is one of the newest mobile payment app to enter the market, launching only in November last year. Everyone is familiar with Grab’s on-demand transportation service, but as the GrabPay service is relatively new, Grab is still in the process of getting users and businesses onboard. It targets cash-based merchants, such as hawker stalls and small businesses, and aims to launch the GrabPay wallet across Southeast Asia this year. It is a relatively low cost mobile wallet payment option for merchants, as it requires no terminal fees nor subscription cost. However, it requires users to frequently top up their credits before using them, and there are not many merchants who accept GrabPay at the moment. There are also plans to enable GrabPay to be used for public transport in the future.

How to use: Download the Grab app, press the GrabPay button located at the top right corner of the app, tap ‘Pay’, top up GrabPay credits using your preferred method, scan the QR code displayed by the merchant before keying in the amount to send to the merchant

Who can use: Anyone who downloads the Grab mobile application

Where you can use: Several merchants in Ang Mo Kio, Novena, Serangoon, Tanjong Pagar, Telok Ayer, Tiong Bahru, Toa Payoh, Upper Thomson (For the full list of merchants, please refer to Grab’s website).

Apple Pay

Apple Pay was one of the first mobile payment operator in Singapore, launching even before its competitors Samsung Pay and Google Pay in 2016. Merchants that accept Apple Pay are established and familiar household brand names. However, since its launch, mobile payments in Singapore have gained significant traction, and Apple Pay faces increased competition from both local and foreign mobile payment operators. It will prove to be an uphill battle for Apple Pay to win over market share, given that it targets only Apple users.

How to use: Add your credit, debit or prepaid cards to your Apple device to set up Apple Pay, and place your device near any NFC card terminal to make payment

Who can use: Users who are both (1) an iPad, iPhone, Mac, and/or Apple Watch user, and (2) are a customer of the supporting institutions – American Express, Citibank, DBS/POSB, HSBC, OCBC Bank, Standard Chartered, UOB

Where you can use: 7-11, Apple stores, Best Denki, BreadTalk, Challenger, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Cold Storage, Cotton On, Da Paolo, Deliveroo, Din Tai Fung, Etsy, Kickstarter, Klook, NTUC Fairprice, Food Republic, G2000, Giant, Guardian, m1, Market Place, Pasta Mania, Shaw, Singapore Airlines, Starbucks, StarHub, ToastBox, Topman, Topshop, Typo, Uniqlo and more


Alipay is one of the established players dominating the mobile payment market in China, and has been looking to launch a local e-wallet for Singapore consumers. However, it has yet to do so as the company is still looking for local partners here. Currently, it targets local merchants, Chinese nationals living in Singapore and Chinese tourists. Chinese tourists were the biggest spenders in 2016, spending more than S$3 billion, making them a very attractive segment for local merchants to target in order to increase sales and profits. To further appeal to local merchants, Alipay offers free installation and set-up, as well as minimal transaction fees.

How to use: Download the app, link the Alipay wallet to your China-based bank account, credit card or stored value card, scan the QR codes provided by the retailer with your smartphone to send the money to the retailer

Who can use: Anyone with a China-based bank account, mainly Chinese nationals living in Singapore or Chinese tourists

Where you can use: ComfortDelGro and Prime taxis, tourist areas such as Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore Zoo, Universal Studios Singapore, merchants in Chinatown, departmental stores such as Metro, and more

WeChat Pay

Similar to Alipay, WeChat Pay is also one of the dominant players in China’s mobile payment industry, and seeks to target Chinese nationals who are spending money abroad. To date, WeChat Pay has not announced any plans to open the WeChat wallet service for Singaporeans due to the relatively low number of WeChat users amongst locals – Singaporeans are more familiar with Whatsapp or Telegram.

How to use: Download the WeChat App, open WeChat Wallet to add a China-based bank card, and use can now use WeChat Pay to make purchases by scanning QR codes or receive money from friends through the app

Who can use: Anyone with a China-based bank account, mainly Chinese nationals living in Singapore or Chinese tourists

Where you can use: ComfortDelGro taxis, majority stores at Changi Airport, TWG Tea Salon, CHANEL, StarHub, Marina Bay Sands, and more

Aside from the mobile payment players covered in this article, there is also Android Pay, Singtel DASH, Liquid Pay, DBS’ PayLah!, OCBC’s Pay Anyone, Razer’s Razerpay, and the list goes on.

Yet, despite the extensive array of options and their ease of use, mobile payment adoption in Singapore has been slow to take off due to several reasons. Firstly, customer habits are difficult to change and Singapore’s developed economy already has well-established payment systems in place. As such, consumers do not see the need to switch to mobile payments, as using credit or debit cards offers the same convenience. On the other hand, for merchants, having to decide which mobile payments to accept and which not to accept first requires them to understand the different types of terminal set ups and transaction fees involved. Merchants may not have the time to familiarize themselves with these various mobile payment options, and may be hesitant in sending their staff for training to equip them with the knowledge of handling these new sorts of payments. As a result, there is resistance from both ends in adopting mobile payments and in achieving the goal of Singapore becoming a cashless society.

Recognizing this issue, FOMO Pay has offered a service that appeals to both retailers and customers – a one-stop QR code payment solution that allows merchants to accept a full suite of mobile payment methods, and consumers to use any mobile payment option they prefer. Mobile payment methods currently accepted by FOMO Pay include mVisa, NETSPay, WeChat Pay, Grab Pay, and more. Through this service, FOMO Pay aims to promote cashless payment and ensure that digital payment is inclusive for merchants, especially for smaller companies and entrepreneurs who want to take their business to greater heights.

About FOMO Pay

FOMO Pay provides one-stop QRCode Payment Solution which enables merchants to accept a full suite of new payment methods including WeChat PayNETSPay, mVISA, Grab PayBaidu WalletBest Pay, etc. Launched in 2016 with more than 1000 merchants acquired within a year, FOMO Pay is trusted by major companies including SPHMarina Bay SandsStarHubJUMBOClub 21, CHANEL, etc. With FOMO Pay, merchants can unlock true business potential by giving customers the payment options they prefer and adopt cashless payment easily. FOMO Pay is also sitting in MAS SGQR Taskforce to promote QR code payment and make Singapore a cashless society.