Going Cashless: Beginner’s Guide to Navigating e-Wallets

You might have noticed cashless payment proliferating in Singapore now, from stores and restaurants, to even hawker centres accepting e-wallet options. Covid-19 has also accelerated the adoption, as outlets lower the risk of viral transmission by handling cash.

The Straits Times has even reported that Singapore’s largest bank, DBS Bank, saw an unprecedented 11 percent dip in the volume of cash withdrawals and deposits from January to March 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.

How e-wallets work

Enter the age of e-wallets, a virtual wallet that enables users to send, receive, store money and pay for purchases conveniently via their mobile phones.

Some e-wallets like DBS PayLah! and GrabPay store credit within, and allow you to spend it in P2P transactions like sending cash to a friend, or paying at a vendor with a QR code.

Others can also store your debit or credit cards, and can authorise payment on your behalf. Currently, such e-wallet services are provided by smartphone apps (e.g. Samsung Pay, Apple Pay, Google Pay).

Pros & cons of using an e-wallet 

As with any other digital payment methods, the e-wallet comes with its advantages and drawbacks. Here are some points to take note of:


  • Fast and convenient

  • May have a reward system or cashback within e-wallet

  • Widely accepted

  • Can aid in budgeting

  • Enhanced security

  • Seamless purchasing experience


  • May not be compatible with every merchant

  • Possible technical glitches including network delays or problems with loading apps

Considerations prior to using an e-wallet

With a myriad of e-wallets available in the market, choosing your go-to e-wallet can be overwhelming. Before you ditch your wallet, consider the following:

  • What is the purpose of getting an e-wallet? Is it for your everyday expenses, or are you looking to save with cashback?

  • Do you have to top up a minimum value to maintain your e-wallet?

  • Is there any expiry date for the value into your e-wallet?

  • Are there any top-up or transaction fees involved?

  • Is there a cap on the value you can transfer in a single transaction?

Popular e-wallet options currently available

With the above considerations in mind, one of these popular e-wallet options may be suitable for your needs.

1. GrabPay

An easy and hassle-free payment solution introduced by Grab, you can use GrabPay for your Grab rides, Grabfood deliveries and even pay selected merchants with your GrabPay wallet. To top up the value in your GrabPay wallet, you can use selected credit cards.

Certain daily expenses (e.g. Grab rides) also allow you to earn GrabRewards Points, with different membership tiers available.

2. GooglePay

Developed by Google, Google Pay allows users to pay for transactions with their smartphones in-stores or even on supported websites. With over 80,000 merchants including Cold Storage, NTUC, 7-Eleven, McDonald’s and Uniqlo, you can make fuss-free transactions without the hassle of having to dig for your physical wallet. Google Pay also allows for peer-to-peer transactions, having integrated with OCBC Bank, DBS PayLah! and selected credit cards.

Bonus: You can even stand to win scratch cards for P2P payments with a minimum transaction of $10, capped at 2 transactions a week (at time of writing).*

*Subject to change at Google Pay’s discretion. 

3. Singtel Dash

Singtel Dash allows users to pay for transactions and commuter rides, and transfer cash, offering discounts and Dash reward points on online and in-store purchases. You can even top up your Singtel prepaid account or remit funds to China, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia,  Myanmar, Malaysia, and the Philippines effortlessly.

You can also enjoy specially curated deals when you pay with Dash, with offers frequently refreshed within the app.

4. OCBC PayAnyone

To use this e-wallet, you’ll need an OCBC bank account. OCBC Pay Anyone allows OCBC users to send and receive money from peers, with transactions directly deducted or credited to the linked OCBC account. Besides transacting with peers, you can also pay merchants such as your nearby Kopitiam uncle when you head out for lunch.

Forgot your ATM card and in desperate need of cash? Fret not—you can use this e-wallet to scan the QR code at any OCBC ATMs to withdraw cash.

5. DBS PayLah!

Unlike OCBC PayAnyone, you don’t have to be an existing DBS/ POSB bank account holder.

If you are one, you can directly access the funds from your bank account to use the app’s auto debit function. Otherwise, simply transfer funds to and from your PayLah! Wallet via i-banking.

With PayLah!, you can order meals from your favourite 5-star restaurants or hawker stalls, commute with gojek and ComfortDelGro, or even buy tickets and book shows with selected merchants.

However, the adoption of PayLah! might not be ubiquitous at the moment and you may find yourself with leftover funds in your PayLah! wallet. With this balance, you can easily withdraw the balance when you head to ‘Manage Wallet’ and select the ‘Transfer to Account’ option.

Every e-wallet has its own unique feature and there might not be a one-size-fits-all solution. As such, you may wish to experiment with a few e-wallets at the same time and determine which works best for you.

How to curb overspending with e-wallet

With the ease of digital payment, our generation might struggle to save money since it’s so easy to purchase anything online at the click of a button. With these wallets being digital, some consumers tend not to feel the pinch while making payments. Don’t fall into the rabbit hole — shop mindfully with smart budgeting.

Pro-tip: Update your budget within the Planner Bee app to keep track of your expenses after every transaction, and don’t let your finances get derailed!

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