Enhanced infrastructure to standardise e-payment systems across Singapore
Singapore, 20 November 2017 — Singapore’s three local banks, DBS/POSB, OCBC Bank and UOB, have come together with NETS to launch Southeast Asia’s first unified digital payment platform to make payments simpler and easier for both customers and merchants across the island.
Under this initiative to standardise the acceptance of NETS QR code payments, customers of all six NETS participating banks (DBS/POSB, OCBC Bank, UOB, HSBC, Maybank and Standard Chartered Bank) will be able to “scan and pay” digitally at any NETS QR payment code-enabled merchant.
Merchants will also benefit from the interoperable platform as they will only need one NETS QR code to accept multiple payment types from customers of all the partner banks. Citibank has also come onboard to participate in the static QR code platform for small cash-based merchants who are enabled with the NETS QR payment acceptance capability. The seven banks together serve almost all consumers and merchants in Singapore.
To ensure e-payment is widely used and accepted island-wide, widespread merchant participation is needed. Over the next three years, NETS will intensify its efforts to increase the number of QR code acceptance points in Singapore with the aim of accelerating the country’s Smart Nation vision.
NETS currently has more than 100,000 acceptance points at 37,000 merchants. However, a large portion of merchants in Singapore remains cash-based and they do not have NETS terminals. Many of them operate at hawker centres, food courts and canteens and more than 90% of their transactions are in cash. NETS estimates that SGD1 billion in cash transactions are made at 6,000 hawkers in Singapore every year.
The three Singapore banks, together with NETS, have been equipping hawkers with the new QR code unified payment terminals from when NETS first launched this capability at the Tanjong Pagar Hawker Centre in September this year. Since then, more than 600 stalls across 20 hawker centres, including those at Beo Crescent, Tanjong Pagar, Yishun Park and Zion Road, as well as food courts and canteens at Singapore Polytechnic, Republic Polytechnic, Nanyang Polytechnic, Temasek Polytechnic and the National Technological University now accept payment by QR code. Merchant fees for hawkers have also been waived for three years as part of the conversion exercise to ensure they benefit from the speed and ease of using digital payments.
NETS’ unified QR code payment platform will be able to accept payments from customers using NETSPay, DBS PayLah!, OCBC Pay Anyone and UOB Mighty. The four other foreign retail banks are expected to offer this service shortly. By mid-2018, all of NETS’ acceptance points will be QR code-enabled.
Ms Tan Su Shan, Chairman of NETS Board and Group Head of Consumer Banking & Wealth Management, DBS said, “NETS and the Singapore banks support our national agenda to build a Smart Nation powered by a smart national e-payments solution. With the myriad digital payments choices available today, consumers will be looking for one that is ubiquitous, simple and safe. Hence, in order to address this need, the local banks and NETS have come together to provide this e-payments platform that is interoperable amongst different players – one that is available islandwide and is also simple and free to use for both consumers and merchants.”
“Over the years, DBS has been enhancing our payments ecosystems with easy to use options to meet both merchants and consumers’ needs. We remain committed to serving our customers seamlessly as they commute, shop, transact and pay in their everyday lives. Hence, along with NETS and the other local banks, we believe that a national, interoperable system like this will accelerate the adoption of digital payments in Singapore and go a long way in supporting the country’s Smart Nation payments agenda,” Ms Tan added.
Mr Ching Wei Hong, Chief Operating Officer, OCBC Bank, said, “What we are doing today is offer a clear solution to consumers by removing all the confusion over the many types of e-payments in Singapore. Given the dominance of NETS over the e-payment space via NETS debit scheme and FAST, and the huge market share by the three Singapore banks of the consumer market on a combined basis, we can effectively promote QR code cashless payment on a large scale. The most critical piece is adoption! OCBC fully supports NETS in getting many more merchants including hawkers wired up with NETS terminals. On our part, we will reach out to our more than 2.5 million customers to drive consumer adoption of the NETS QR code payment solution. Consumers who are not used to QR codes need not worry. They can still use their ATM cards to pay via NETS, even at hawker stalls. We are excited that, as a unified force, the 3 local banks are best placed to bring to fruition, a truly cashless Singapore!”
Mr Eddie Khoo, Head, Group Personal Financial Services & Private Bank, UOB, said, “UOB has been supporting Singapore at every step in its journey towards a cashless nation. We were at the vanguard in launching Singapore’s first credit card in 1988 and since then have led in providing simple, safe and convenient cashless and contactless solutions for consumers and merchants. Over the last three decades in helping Singapore build its e-payment ecosystem, we have been relentless in using technology to make payment simpler, safer and smarter. All the while, our focus has been on what is right for the customer.
“Technology should be used to make things simple, not complex. Otherwise, the customer suffers, experience is affected and time wasted. With this nation-wide digital payment initiative, we are cutting through the clutter and making it much easier for customers to make and for merchants to accept digital payments. Having one nationwide system for all to use is the smarter, safer and simpler option for all,” Mr Khoo said.
Mr Jeffrey Goh, Chief Executive Officer, NETS, said, “Over the past three decades, we’ve worked tirelessly to build the hardware – the infrastructure necessary to achieve an e-payments society, increasing the number of NETS acceptance points and introducing digital payment methods such as QR code. The banks have been working on the software – helping to change consumer behaviour by educating their customers on the benefits of contactless and mobile payments.
“The ground is receptive – merchants are open to e-payment modes and consumers are clamouring for secure and convenient payment instruments – and we feel this is the right time to make the joint push to displace cash in Singapore,” he added.
Driving Merchant Adoption
To encourage the installation of NETS terminals by hawkers, NETS is waiving all terminal and transaction fees for three years. It is also working to accelerate the settlement process to enable all merchants to receive their sales proceeds the same day. NETS currently offers one of the fastest settlement periods of T+1 day for its merchants.
Driving Consumer Adoption
NETS is also working to promote consumer adoption.
NETS, DBS/POSB, OCBC and UOB are launching a SGD 15 million four-month promotion campaign targeting their customer bases. From 17 November 2017 to 31 March 2018, the first 288 customers who make eight QR code payments a month at any participating hawker centre will receive SGD 28 in rebates.
During this promotion period, the top three hawker stalls who attain the highest number of cashless transactions on a monthly basis will receive SGD 388, SGD 288 and SGD 188 respectively.
Even with the interoperability of the QR code payment platform, payments can be made with NETS debit scheme cards to ensure all are included in the journey towards a cashless nation.
More details can be found at www.nets.com.sg/gocashless.
The NETS QR code is a domestic QR code platform. The NETS static QR will be incorporated under the SG QR code specifications when it is released later. NETS will replace NETS QR at all locations where it is accepted with SG QR over the course of 2018.