Singapore (VNA) – From mid-2021, users of Singapore's PayNow and Thailand's equivalent PromptPay will be able to send money instantly and securely across the two countries with their mobile phone numbers at competitive rates, according to Ravi Menon, managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

This linkage between two countries' national faster payment systems will be the first of its kind in the world, noted Menon earlier this week.

Kickstarted by MAS and the Bank of Thailand three years ago, the service will begin with a small group of banks on both sides. Participation will be scaled up to include more banks and non-bank providers over time, he said. MAS is also keen to partner other central banks in the region to expand the linkage across Southeast Asia, he added.

This is part of MAS's efforts to make cross-border remittances cheaper and faster, in order to extend the benefits of a digital economy to a wider range of users, he said.

Singapore's central bank is also seeking to make cross-border payments and settlements – one of the biggest painpoints for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – quicker and more affordable.

MAS had embarked on Project Ubin five years ago to explore the use of blockchain, with the final phase of experimentation completed in July this year where a blockchain-based prototype for multi-currency settlement was successfully tested./.