Singapore launches GovCash service to replace 500,000 cheques

By on 21/02/2022 | Updated on 21/02/2022
A picture of the skyline of Singapore at dusk
The skyline of Singapore. Photo: Brandon Lim/Flickr Used under Creative Commons

A service that will allow 40,000 Singaporeans to directly receive payments from government without needing to cash cheques has been launched to make it easier and quicker for citizens to access funds.

GovCash has been rolled out through a three-way project involving the government’s Central Provident Fund (CPF), the government’s technology agency GovTech and the Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC) to help Singaporeans receive government payments more easily.

According to OpenGovAsia, 40,000 Singaporeans cash up to half a million cheques from government every year, mostly for the Workfare income supplement scheme that tops up the salary of low-income workers. The cheques are used by those unable to use direct bank credit, but Singaporeans will now be able to receive payments through the GovCash system, allowing them to withdraw payments through self-service ATM machines. They will also have access to in-person assistance from ‘Digital Ambassadors’ at OCBC’s Singaporean branches.

“OCBC is pleased to support the CPF Board in its mission to continually improve the service experience for Singaporeans through initiatives like GovCash, which takes us one step closer to the vision of serving citizens and businesses better through technology,” said Melvyn Low, head of global transaction banking at OCBC.

GovCash pilot pays off

According to the CPF, a pilot for GovCash in December 2021 revealed generally positive feedback from users.

“The whole process of receiving payments with GovCash was very easy and convenient. I was able to do it by myself and withdraw the payment immediately at an OCBC ATM. I am happy that I no longer have to queue at the bank counter to encash my cheques”, said Madam Ruziyantee Mohd Sani, a GovCash user, in a statement published by the CPF board.

GovCash will also give its users the option to transfer via PayNow, a global e-payments service that requires only a payee’s mobile or personal identification number to move funds. To verify its users’ identity, GovCash will incorporate Singpass, a facial recognition technology launched as part of the country’s National Digital Identity (NDI) scheme to give Singaporeans access to multiple government services via a face-scanning system on their device. To protect against fraud, GovCash includes detection features that block photos or videos from being taken while it verifies the user.

Singapore has continued to roll out new digital services under its Smart Nation initiative, which aims to harness technology to improve people’s lives. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has been promoting e-payments as a key pillar of this agenda, and has set out its visions of a Smart Financial Centre where “innovation is pervasive and fintech is used widely”.

About Jack Aldane

Jack is a British journalist, cartoonist and podcaster. He graduated from Heythrop College London in 2009 with a BA in philosophy, before living and working in China for three years as a freelance reporter. After training in financial journalism at City University from 2013 to 2014, Jack worked at Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters before moving into editing magazines on global trade and development finance. Shortly after editing opinion writing for UnHerd, he joined the independent think tank ResPublica, where he led a media campaign to change the health and safety requirements around asbestos in UK public buildings. As host and producer of The Booking Club podcast – a conversation series featuring prominent authors and commentators at their favourite restaurants – Jack continues to engage today’s most distinguished thinkers on the biggest problems pertaining to ideology and power in the 21st century. He joined Global Government Forum as its Senior Staff Writer and Community Co-ordinator in 2021.

One Comment

  1. Kristy Ang says:

    Appreciate that if can provide a link to check who is eligible.

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