SINGAPORE: A new nationwide eGIRO service was launched on Monday (Nov 8) to fully digitise the current paper-based GIRO process and allow applications to be processed within minutes.
First introduced in 1984, GIRO is an electronic direct debit mechanism that allows individuals to set up recurring bill payments from their bank accounts. These can be payments for personal income tax, mobile phone bills, season parking and school fees, among others.
Currently, the application process is manual and takes an average of three weeks. It can go up to six weeks if further clarifications are needed, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat as he launched the new initiative at the Singapore Fintech Festival x Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology 2021.
On average, about 1 million GIRO applications are made in Singapore every year.
The Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) said in a separate press release that the new eGIRO service is built on “API (application programming interface) and cloud-based architecture, which will allow the solution to quickly scale to accommodate the needs of all banks and billing organisations in Singapore”.
It added that eGIRO will be progressively offered by eight major banks and 13 billing organisations in its initial phase.
These banks are DBS, OCBC, UOB, Bank of China, HSBC, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Maybank and Standard Chartered Bank.
The billing organisations range from different business segments, such as the Central Provident Fund Board, Housing Development Board, GrabPay, Singtel Dash and Etiqa Insurance Singapore.
ABS is looking to expand the list of banks and billing organisations in subsequent phases of the eGIRO service, the association said.
“With the new eGIRO service, the creation and cancellation of GIRO instructions will be automated and there will be a significant reduction in turnaround time from around three weeks to mere minutes,” said ABS director Ong-Ang Ai Boon.
“It will also cut the consumption of paper-based documentation by around two million sheets per year, minimising errors due to human intervention.”
The new digital service will not be replacing paper-based applications for now.
“There is no immediate plan to stop the paper form application because we also need to look at the different profiles of citizens,” Mr Ng Peng Khim, eGIRO technology workstream lead, told reporters at a briefing.
“Some of them are more ready to go digital with Internet banking and mobile banking, and there’ll be some that may continue to use paper forms to apply for GIRO. We will look at this at a later stage.”
The Monetary Authority of Singapore said the new service marks another significant step forward for Singapore towards a more inclusive digital economy.
Its chief financial technology officer Sopnendu Mohanty said: “This aligns with our vision to drive interoperable solutions and seamless digital services to reach more people and businesses, at lower cost and greater convenience.
“Individuals and businesses in Singapore will continue to benefit from the digitalisation effort and partnership between the regulator and the industry players, where eGIRO can pave way for the industry to explore innovative payment models, such as automatic e-wallet top-ups in the future.”