WhitePaper

THE BIG PICTURE

In his 2017 National Day Rally speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong quipped that Singapore trails behind other cities when it comes to electronic payments and called for systems to be simplified and integrated.

The above statement highlights the country’s unified push towards e-payments which opens more opportunities for new payment platforms to flourish.

Payment systems which integrate new technologies and trends such as cryptocurrencies have a much larger chance of offering a unique proposition versus the current market incumbents.

QR Code Payments are also being shown the limelight. On 20 November 2018, the Monetary Authority of Singapore announced the specifications of a national QR code, a move that marks one of the biggest steps towards finally unifying the country’s deeply fragmented e-payment market.

The code, known as SGQR, will free merchants from messy multiple-terminal set-ups or the need to display multiple QR (quick response) codes to accept different payment schemes.

There will be only one QR code to display and it will work with most of, if not all, the e-wallets in use: DBS PayLah! Singtel Dash, Grab Pay and AliPay.

Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Janil Puthucheary had said that for merchants, it would be “an infrastructure-light and cheaper alternative to accept different types of e-payments”.

Singtel’s Dash is the first to embrace SGQR, with its QR code sticker displayed at a handful of merchants. E-payment stalwart Nets also said it will change its current QR code – rolled out to about 30,000 acceptance points in malls and taxis, and 600 hawker stalls – to one that incorporates the SGQR specification.

While the SGQR concept is an important development, it is important for consumers and merchants to understand that it streamlines only a small part of the current e-payment mess.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has advocated fiercely for a true “cashless society” though the above measures.

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