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Singtel’s Dash users can go cashless while shopping in Japan

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Telco planning to expand service to central Tokyo and other tourist hot spots

Users of Singtel's Dash mobile wallet can now go cashless while shopping in Japan.

They can pay for their purchases by scanning a QR code, as the telco debuted its cross-border mobile payment alliance VIA in Tokyo yesterday.

At the moment, VIA is available only at 37 stores at Haneda Airport, five stores at Narita Airport, and at the Narita Gateway Hotel.

But the goal is to expand this service to central Tokyo and other tourist hot spots like Osaka, Kyoto and Hokkaido in the coming year, Singtel's vice-president for business at the international group Soon Sze Meng told The Straits Times.

Merchants will include convenience stores, restaurants and department stores.

The VIA alliance, which was launched in October last year, now comprises mobile wallets Dash and Thailand's AIS Global Pay. Users of these wallets can go cashless at participating merchants in Singapore and Thailand - and now Japan.

The network is set to grow as VIA, which Singtel bills as Asia's first cross-border mobile payment alliance, is expanding to include Thailand's Kasikornbank's K Plus, Axiata Digital's Boost Malaysia and Indonesia's LinkAja.

It will then comprise 40 million mobile wallet users and 2.1 million merchants across Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Japan.

"Digital payments are gaining widespread acceptance in South-east Asia, and are fast replacing cash as the preferred transaction mode," said Mr Arthur Lang, chief executive officer of Singtel's international group.

VIA connects telco and non-telco mobile wallets across borders to create a region-wide payment network. Consumers pay via their own local mobile wallets, which convert prices at competitive exchange rates, when they travel.

In Japan, VIA has joined the StarPay platform built by 10-year-old Japanese fintech company Netstars.

Each StarPay terminal can be used to accept QR code payments from a whole host of mobile wallets, including Japan's Line Pay and Rakuten Pay, and China's Alipay and WeChat Pay, thus doing away with the need for multiple point-of-sale terminals.

This also means that VIA can be introduced and accepted by merchants already on the StarPay system without incurring any extra operational costs, or the need for any new equipment.

There are now 100,000 merchants using StarPay across Japan, and Netstars hopes to grow this reach to one million stores by the end of next year.