This article has a blurry definition of digital payments which appears to simply exclude any electronic method that uses the branded payment networks. Singapore has established the Singapore Quick Response Code (SGQR) as a standard at the POS, has deployed a national Fast and Secure Transfers (FAST) transaction networkthat SGQR can connect to and has announced it will provide Fintech access to FAST by 2019:
“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.
“Singapore has come a long way in its drive for digital payments and made much progress towards a cashless economy,” said Phoram Mehta, Head of Information Security, Asia Pacific, PayPal.”
The Singapore Quick Response Code (SGQR) is based in part on the QR code standard released by EMVCo. The standard was approved by the Singapore Payments Council, which includes Mastercard and Visa as participants, but this appears to conflict with a recently announced consortium, which includes Diners Club, MasterCard Visa, and UnionPay, which intends to specify its own QR Code standard.
Seven mobile wallets, acquirers and payment networks, including Diners Club, EZi Wallet, EZ-Link, Liquid Pay, Mastercard, UnionPay International and Wirecard, have formed a consortium to enable interoperable QR payments in Singapore for consumers and merchants.
In line with SG QR, the consortium will jointly support an interoperable QR framework that allows customers the ease and convenience of paying with their mobile wallets and cards at consortium merchants. Apart from bilateral arrangements, mobile wallets and acquirers can choose to be supplemented by LiquidNet, an interoperable API platform developed by Liquid Group that is open to debit and credit cards, wallets, telecom providers, payments technology institutions as well as local and international payment apps.
Mobile payment will also be made easier for participating merchants, as they will be able to accept consortium QR payments on a single merchant system, creating inclusiveness and effectively streamlining merchant on-boarding and support.
This initiative by the consortium comes on the heels of the Payments Council’s endorsement of the EMVCo compliant SG QR specifications for electronic payments that will see SG QR being adopted and deployed by payment service providers in Singapore through 2018.
SG QR payments via local and international credit cards, debit cards and stored value wallets will be supported, ensuring a seamless and streamlined e-payment experience for both consumers and merchants.
Overview by Tim Sloane, VP, Payments Innovation at Mercator Advisory Group