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  • Kyle Chua

Singapore Launches New eGIRO Service, But What Benefits Does GIRO Have Today?

The Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) on Monday, 8 November, launched a new nationwide eGIRO service that cuts the application time from weeks to minutes.

Credit: Thomas White via Reuters

There are eight major banks and 13 billing organisations offering the service at launch, as reported by CNA. The billing organisations include Central Provident Fund Board, Housing Development Board, GrabPay, Singtel Dash and Etiqa Insurance Singapore, to name a few.

Existing instructions using paper forms, however, will not be migrated to eGIRO. This new digitised service will not be completely replacing existing paper GIRO for the moment. Its main purpose, as Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat points out, is to shorten the application process, which can take up to three weeks at the shortest and six weeks at the longest.

eGIRO participating banks. / Credit: Kua Chee Siong via The Straits Times

The question is: What are the benefits of using GIRO over other payment methods today?

General Interbank Recurring Order (GIRO) was first made available in 1984, giving Singaporeans a cashless method of paying for recurring bills, such as personal income tax, mobile phone bills, and season parking, among others. It used an electronic direct debit mechanism, wherein the billing amount would be automatically deducted from the individual’s bank account and transferred to the billing organisation.

One of the best benefits of using GIRO is that there are no hidden fees. It’s entirely free to use. You only need a bank account to get started.

For Singaporeans, GIRO also lets you sign up to pay your income tax via interest-free monthly instalments, saving you from having to pay it all at once at the end of each year.

Aside from these, using GIRO is arguably the same as using other payment methods like, say, your credit or debit cards.

A lot of platforms have yet to accept GIRO payments. In contrast, credit cards are accepted by almost every major merchant and billing organisation. For GIRO to be accepted, a merchant must have a partnership with a bank.

Additionally, there are no added incentives to using GIRO over credit cards or online banking, which let you rack up points or earn cashback rewards. So for bigger payments, using a credit card could prove more advantageous for you.

While there are safeguards in place to protect your personal data, using GIRO involves granting banks and billing organisations access to your bank account. Erroneous deductions can be made and you could be none the wiser. For example, if you’re using GIRO to pay your credit card bills, you have to check your bank account to make sure the deductions and the charges match.

With regard to which payment method is the best, there’s no definitive answer. Payment methods have evolved in significant ways over the last few years, and we now have more options than ever before. Each one has its own benefits and caveats. But when it comes down to it, what most of us are usually after is convenience. So it’s really up to you which among the methods available you feel work best for your situation.


Written by Kyle Chua

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