Friday,14 June 2024

BCS leverages AWS cloud solution for cross-border real-time payments

5 min read

Interviewed By Foo Boon Ping

Cloud-based infrastructure plays a crucial role in enabling digital cross-border instant payment systems between Singapore and India

  • Simplified cross-border payments
  • Focus on speed, security, cost-effectiveness
  • Plans to further expand in ASEAN

Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Banking Computer Services (BCS), a subsidiary of Singapore’s NETS Group, have introduced a cloud-based solution to digital cross-border payments, driving innovation, cost reduction, and community effectiveness between Singapore and India.  

BCS manages and operates the national clearing and payment infrastructure in Singapore, including Fast And Secure Transfers (FAST), Interbank GIRO, eGiro, Cheque Clearing, PayNow and SGQR Central Repository.

In February 2023, MAS and the RBI launched the linkage between Singapore’s PayNow and India’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI), enabling real-time fund transfers using mobile phone numbers, UPI identities, or virtual payment addresses. The PayNow-UPI linkage is said to be the world’s first real-time payment system to use scalable cloud-based infrastructure.

Priscilla Chong, country manager for Singapore at AWS, said that they leveraged their expertise in regulated industries and BCS’ infrastructure to design and deploy the cloud solution. AWS is working closely with BCS, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on compliance to foster trust and maintain the integrity of the system.

Ricky Lim, CEO of BCS, emphasised that this collaboration has allowed BCS to harness cloud technologies to enhance the scalability, resilience, and innovation of its real-time payment solutions. 

Enhancing cross-border payments with focus on customer-centricity

The development of the cloud solution is anchored in customer-centricity, addressing speed, security, and cost-effectiveness. It benefits foreign workers, students, and other individuals residing in Singapore and India. 

Lim said the Singapore-India Linkage boosts real-time payments for non-resident Indians in Singapore. The service has been well-received, with encouraging volumes since its full launch; more countries are expected to link up on both sides of the corridor.

Chong said: “Just to give you a perspective of the scale, we expect this to be $1.3 billion worth of transactions moving every year. Currently, it serves about 400,000 Indian nationals here in Singapore.”

She added: “This is also in part subscribing to the G20 payment objectives of trying to lower the cost of making cross-border transfers.”

Lim said: “We are also very cognisant of potential fraud, potential AML (anti-money laundering) issues, and therefore, we took the more conservative approach of capping the transaction limits to SGD 1,000 ($743) be it to Thailand or India. But to be fair, if you look at a typical migrant worker, ticket size for payments, SGD 1,000 ($743) per day is quite sufficient. In that sense, we are putting in a limit to ensure safety, but at the same time, it does not limit the real consumer needs out there.”

BCS plans to further expand in ASEAN

BCS aims to extend its cross-border payment services beyond peer-to-peer transactions, venturing into consumer-to-business and business-to-business payments. The company plans to launch linkages with Malaysia and five ASEAN countries, enhancing regional financial connectivity. 

Lim said: “Our next stop after Thailand and India is really Malaysia. We are working very hard to get that up and running, hopefully by the end of the year. Malaysia is a very interesting market for us in Singapore, compared to Thailand and India.”

With its historical economic relationship with Malaysia, BCS is expecting a lot more flows to come in both directions. The ASEAN central banks announced last year that they would extend cross-border payments to five ASEAN countries. 

Lim added: “The five key Asian economies are Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines. The central banks, the payment operators and the banking participants—we are now working together to create these multilateral payments linkage that should happen in 2025.”

Chong said: “We have this process called the well-architected review, which is a constant review of where they are in terms of the infrastructure. We have to tweak and make recommendations so that it meets the scaling agenda of BCS and optimises cost at the same time.” 

AWS has invested in digital skills development and innovation, partnering with governments, educators, and corporations to embed cloud knowledge into their curricula and provide training opportunities. A Gallup study commissioned by AWS highlights the transformative impact of advanced digital skill sets, cloud engineers, and software developers on gross domestic product growth, revenue projection, and innovation.


Keywords: Cross-border Real-time Payments, Cloud-enabled Infrastructure, Speed, Security, Cost-effectiveness, Mobile Number, Upi Identity Virtual Payment Account, Traditional Remittances, G20 Payment, Regulatory Compliance, Technologies, Digital Skills
Institutions: AWS, BCS, MAS, RBI
Country: Singapore, India
Region: ASEAN
People : Ricky Lim, Priscilla Chong
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