Singapore expat part 3: unified payment system across transport

Just like Hong Kong (Octopus), Seoul (T-Money) and London (Oyster), Singapore has a public transport card (Ez-Link). Like HK and Seoul, you can use this card for small payments in 7/11 alike shops.

This payment card works on all transport modes. Bus. MRT (metro). No matter who operates it.

Sadly it doesn’t work on taxis though.

Nonetheless. With a bunch of different players (SMRT, SBS, any other? But the same is true for London — and they have more players on the market) they have one simple unified payment system (and prices are the same no matter who is operating).

Why is this not possible in Belgium? Don’t get me started on MOBIB.  “In order to travel validly on the networks of the various operators, you will need to store a valid transport tickets on your MOBIB card for each of the mobility operators you intend to travel with.” That’s a joke.

Singapore expat part 2

“Singapore is China, right? They eat dog there. So backward.”

I haven’t posted much since arriving here… That’s because life here is pretty straightforward and nothing is complicated.

The post office.

In Belgium buying stamps is usually ??????*** and, like in Singapore, I end up going to the post office and asking them to weigh it and stamp it.

However, unlike Belgium* (and most of Europe?) they have these handy machines.

You pick the country you’re mailing, it weighs the damn thing, you pay, and it prints the stamp. Doesn’t get any easier.

  

Now this isn’t unique to Singapore — I have seen them in Seoul** too. What’s unique here is that they even mail you your receipt digitally.

I’m not sure if there’s just an iPad running in there (UI reminds me of iOS somewhat)… But… It just works, it’s simple, it only took me 30 seconds (if I didn’t take all those pictures at least). <3

In terms of payment I don’t remember if they accepted cash. But card-wise is was NETS only (so foreigners are out of luck).

*) Think Antwerp City had a similar machine once but it was only for packages between size X and Y. And for some reason I couldn’t use it and just went to the counter anyhow.

**) One of the few things in Seoul that was available in English too. And accepted credit cards.

***) Only in Dutch or French. Expat? Fuck you.

Singapore expat part 1

My quest for opening a bank account in Singapore:

  1. DBS: wanted utility bill < 3 months old of my residence in Belgium (which I didn’t have — most of the stuff is on my company’s name). Payslips and other bank documents didn’t count. Also 2hrs queue.
    — (at this point I signed a tenancy agreement and had my own address/place/crib in Singapore) —
  2. UOB: Required a physical Singpass (which you only get after you started working and your employer submitted your IPA).
  3. Citi: IPA was enough, but tenancy agreement wasn’t enough; they need the “stamp duty” proof. Also doesn’t provide NETS. Getting a online banking token has to be “requested”, and getting cards (and thus access) takes ~2 weeks
  4. Went back to DBS with my tenancy agreement and IPA: opened bank account, got access to online banking, everything up and running in about 30 minutes. Downside of DBS Android app: seems to drain battery (requesting GPS high accuracy all the time for some reason; uninstalled for now as I’m not in Singapore until end of this month). Bank cards (did I mention I received them directly?) comes with Visa payWave. It’s a Platinum (not sure why I received this — seems standard as they didn’t ask — don’t think they noticed my other credit cards were Platinum too) Visa debet card.

It’s also worth noting I didn’t receive my DBS text messages with my OTP in Belgium (Belgian number) while it worked in Singapore (same number). I assumed routing issues or my provider (Proximus) blocking their gateway. I tweeted them about the issue, they called me, tested alternate SMS routes while I was on the phone (“I sent several test messages, which one did you receive”) and they waited on the phone until I managed to do whatever I was trying to do and made sure I got the OTP via text message this time. Great customer service!

With FlatTurtle we have people working for us via a Singaporean company, outsourcing. So I already transfer money every month to Singapore with BNP Paribas Fortis (~€40 fee), but for my rent deposit I wanted to try something new: enter TranserWise. Works really well and fast, and needless to say, the fees are much lower (more than half).

While I’m at it, I’m also using a Revolut credit card when abroad and not dealing with euro’s. I use this card all the time when travelling (now that I have a local card in SG I won’t need it in SG anymore, obviously).