Understanding e-wallets

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25 Oct 2018 | 2 min. read

E-wallets let you store e-money and pay for things using prepaid facilities. Find out what you should look out for.

Key takeaways

  • E-wallets include physical cards like EZ-Link card and NETS CashCard, as well as app-based wallets like GrabPay and PayPal.
  • Limit the amount of money in your e-wallet in case you lose it or the issuer runs into difficulties.

What are e-wallets 

You may not realise it but you have been using e-wallets for many years. Early examples of these include public phone cards, "MRT cards" (as they are known colloquially), and physical shopping vouchers.

Basically, e-wallets let you load money to pay for goods or services. While many of these facilities come in the form of physical cards — EZ-Link card, NETS CashCard, are examples — it is increasingly common to have digital versions, thanks to smartphones. GrabPay and Paypal are some of the digital e-wallets today.

E-wallets service providers may also provide money-transfer services. You may wish to refer to Understanding Money Transfer for specific details on money transfers.

Types of e-wallets

There are two types of e-wallets:

A single-purpose e-wallet can only be used to pay for goods and services provided by its issuer. For example, a prepaid telephone card from your service provider.

A multi-purpose e-wallet can be used for the purchase of goods and services provided by its issuer as well as other parties. You can use the EZ-Link card, NETS FlashPay and concession cards for public transport. They can also be used for payments at selected retail stores.

Are e-wallets regulated?

MAS regulates e-wallet service providers and e-money issuers. An e-wallet is a payment account that stores e-money. E-money refers to the value stored in your e-wallet.

Larger e-money issuers (major payment institutions) are required to protect the value of your e-money. That means that if the e-money issuer’s business fails, you should be able to recover your money. Smaller e-money issuers (standard payment institutions) are not required to protect the value of your e-money, but they must inform you of this. You can check the financial institution directory at this link to check on the licensing status of the payment service provider.

Before using e-wallets

Make sure you understand the terms and conditions. We have set out below some things you should consider before using any e-wallet. Ask about the:

  • Refund and replacement procedures — fees may apply
  • Expiry dates
  • Load limit (the maximum value that the e-wallet can store at any one time)
  • Transaction limit (the maximum amount you can transfer from the e-wallet)
  • Minimum transaction and deposit requirements (to avoid extra fees)
  • Top-up fees and other services

Note

Do not store large amounts of money in your e-wallet  in case you lose it or the issuer gets into financial difficulties.

How to resolve a problem

MAS expects e-wallet service providers to have proper resolution channels and resources to deal with disputes. You should contact the issuer directly if there is a problem.

See also:

Last updated on 28 Jan 2020