Chia Hock Lai, President of the Singapore FinTech Association

Francis Kan
The Business Times (Singapore)
THU, SEP 20, 2018 – 5:50 AM

Bridging the last mile in digital payments
Singapore is taking a pragmatic approach towards achieving its goal of becoming a cashless society.
Singapore has made significant strides in promoting digital payments here, but there are challenges to overcome before it realises its vision of becoming a predominantly cashless society, industry experts said.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called on Singapore to ride the e-payments wave and catch up with countries like China in his 2017 National Day Rally speech. Since then, a number of initiatives have been rolled out to help reach that goal; from the introduction of new payment apps to moves to encourage adoption.

One key piece of the puzzle feel into place this month with the launch of a single, standardised QR (Quick Response) code for e-payments. To be rolled out progressively over the next six months, the Singapore Quick Response Code (SGQR) will be adopted by 27 payment schemes, including PayNow, Nets, GrabPay, Liquid Pay and Singtel Dash.

Over 19,000 QR codes will be replaced with SGQR codes from this month. Currently, several QR codes can be displayed at one retailer to support various e-payment schemes, which can confuse consumers.
At the same time, the Government said it would open the interbank payment gates to fintech firms by 2019. Allowing non-bank players to get direct access to the national Fast and Secure Transfers (FAST) transaction system is expected to lead to greater innovation and better cashless payments services for consumers.

Monetary Authority of Singapore board member and Education Minister Ong Ye Kung described these measures as perhaps the “last few jigsaw pieces we are putting in place to complete the national e-payment infrastructure”.

Prior to these latest moves, industry watchers said the Government had already taken multiple steps to help grow the adoption of digital payments in Singapore. These included leveraging its ASEAN chairmanship to make growing the digital economy a priority, promoting interoperability between different payments systems, encouraging consumers to adopt digital payment methods in their daily lives, as well as driving incentives for merchants to integrate digital payments system in their businesses.

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