25 January 18 The Business Times by JACQUELYN CHEOK
THE way for a more widespread adoption of cashless payments has just been paved.
Nets and EZ-Link - two of Singapore's largest e-payments platforms - have partnered to allow all EZ-Link and Concession cards to be used on Nets terminals at hawker centres.
This marks the first time that the two bigwigs have come together to provide a holistic and interoperable e-payments system in Singapore.
From April, EZ-Link and Concession cardholders will be able to make payments for their food and beverages at all Nets-enabled hawker centres by tapping their cards on the existing Nets terminals.
Both companies announced on Wednesday that the partnership will cater to the needs of senior citizens and students, a large majority of whom may not have bank accounts but own Concession cards. The latter allow primary, secondary and tertiary students, as well as NS men and senior citizens, to enjoy concession travel on both buses and trains.
There are currently more than 1,000 stalls across more than 30 hawker centres which accept Nets, through both QR code and card payments. These include Beo Crescent, Tanjong Pagar, Yishun Park and Zion Road, as well as food courts and canteens at institutes such as Singapore Polytechnic, Republic Polytechnic, Nanyang Polytechnic and Temasek Polytechnic.
Nets chief Jeffrey Goh said: "This partnership is a significant milestone in our efforts to build a cashless ecosystem at hawker centres because we are now able to offer all Singaporeans, young and old, a 'single interface' payments experience at hawker centres. They can choose to pay via mobile phone (QR code) or cards."
EZ-Link chief Nicholas Lee added that EZ-Link hopes to continue to establish similar partnerships to increase its number of acceptance points across the country and "empower Singaporeans of all ages in the nation's cashless journey".
Asked why hawker centres have been chosen as the starting point for the partnership, a Nets spokesman said that hawker centres are "predominantly cash-based environments", and that the partnership is part of a concerted drive to convert cash-based transactions to e-payments in line with Singapore's Smart Nation agenda.
"Our focus now is to solve the payments conundrum at hawker centres by providing an interoperable system. If this is successful, and we hope it will be, we will look at extending our partnership beyond hawker centres."
Jacqueline Loh, deputy managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), said that MAS welcomes the Nets and EZ-Link partnership as an important milestone in Singapore's journey towards an e-payments society.
"A wide spectrum of consumers, from students to senior citizens, can utilise the same card to make payments for their daily purchases and public transportation seamlessly."
She added: "MAS looks forward to similar collaboration among the industry players to enhance the consumer's payment experience".
The push for e-payments in Singapore is rapidly gathering pace.
Last November, Nets announced that seven banks - DBS/POSB, OCBC, UOB, HSBC, Maybank, Standard Chartered Bank and Citibank - have joined its new QR code payment platform.
This allows customers to use their existing banking apps to scan a QR code for payment at some 30,000 Nets acceptance points islandwide.
In November too, ridesharing company Grab launched its mobile wallet service GrabPay to merchants in Singapore, among them hawker stalls, restaurants and retail outlets.
Aside from Nets, EZ-Link and Grab, other players in this space include Liquid Pay, FavePay and Alipay.