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Technology - the push towards a Smart Nation

 

In his National Day Rally, Singapore’s Prime Minister, Mr. Lee Hsien Loong, underscored the importance of Singapore progressing towards a Smart Nation. In this article, we focus on impending initiatives by the government and financial institutions to make cashless payments more pervasive. 

PayNow, a fund transfer system launched in July, is a collaborative nationwide effort by financial institutions to simplify the way funds are transferred. Before this initiative, fund transfers require users to enter the receiver’s bank account number, a bugbear of e-payments with additional steps like setting a passcode for the receiver to key in before ‘collecting’ their money. With PayNow, users can ubiquitously and securely transfer funds simply by entering the receiver’s mobile or NRIC number regardless of the bank they use. 

E-payment is not a new concept in Singapore. Touted as a practical and convenient way for e-payment, QR codes, are gradually gaining traction especially among small retailers without robust payment infrastructure in place. However, the wide assortment of options with differing standards and inability to interoperate often lead to confusion among payers and retailers that results in inefficiencies. 

To resolve this, the government has established an industry taskforce to rollout a universal QR code, known as the ‘SGQR’ slated for launch by end 2017. This taskforce, comprising of banks, QR payment service providers and various government entities aims to standardize specifications to accept both domestic and international payment schemes. With this new scheme, retailers will now need to display only one QR code at their shopfront for scanning regardless of the payment app that the payer is using. 

Through the combined efforts of the government and industry players, Singapore will in time catch up on the race against its peers to go cashless. Therefore, it is imperative that companies begin to embrace technology or risk irrelevance in this increasingly digitalized world.

 

Robin Chin

Robin Chin

Partner, Foo Kon Tan
Singapore

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