Singapore working on common QR code for payments

Singapore looks set to experience some exciting innovation in the payments sector, driven by the recently established Payments Council.

At its inaugural meeting in August, the group – which comprises leaders from banks, payment service providers, businesses and trade associations – discussed topics including interoperability in electronic payments and the development of a common QR code for the industry in Singapore.

The council noted that the introduction of QR code-based payments could be a practical way of extending e-payments to merchants who are predominantly cash-based.

One of the advantages of this approach is that it is infrastructure-light and cheaper than debit and credit card schemes, which are more feasible for larger merchants and retailers than their smaller counterparts.

A common QR code would be required to enable payments across different schemes, digital wallets and banks, reducing the risk of fragmentation and inefficiency. An industry taskforce is being established with the aim of developing a common code to accept domestic and international payments by the end of 2017.

Yeo Hiang Meng, Payments Council member and president of the Federation of Merchants’ Association, Singapore (FMAS), said: “Singaporeans are interested in the mobile payment experience. FMAS will work with the Monetary Authority of Singapore, Association of Banks in Singapore and financial institutions to expedite the adoption of the common QR code for mobile payments.

“We hope to see intensified marketing efforts to encourage businesses and consumers to adopt mobile payments at heartland shops and hawker centres.”

Council members welcomed the recent trend of expansion in e-payments, with usage on the increase and more solutions becoming available to consumers.

However, one key aspect that is lacking is interoperability. PayNow, the recently launched peer-to-peer funds transfer service, was highlighted as a good example of an infrastructure rail that could make e-payments interoperable.

 

Image: iStock/martiapunts

Written by Jack Dougal

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