In a Channel NewsAsia report dated 20 November (Monday), it is reported that seven banks in Singapore have announced that they will offer consumers the option of paying using NETS QR code by the middle of next year.
DBS Bank, OCBC, and UOB stated in a joint press briefing on Monday (20 November) that they have incorporated NETS' QR code platform and will be joined by HSBC, Maybank and Standard Chartered Bank to enable this payment offering.
While, Citibank, which is a non-NETS participant, also joined the other banks, offering the payment option for small, cash-based merchants.
According to the banks, the unified QR code payment platform will be able to accept payments from customers using NETSPay, DBS PayLah!, OCBC Pay Anyone and UOB Mighty, while the four foreign retail banks are expected to offer this service shortly.
According to the press release, all of NETS’ more than 100,000 acceptance points will be QR code-enabled by mid-2018 and to encourage the installation of NETS terminals by hawkers, NETS is waiving all terminal and transaction fees for three years.
NETS and the three local banks are also launching a S$15 million, four-month promotion campaign for consumers, in which the first 288 customers who make eight QR code payments a month at any participating hawker centre will receive S$28 in rebates starting from 17 November to 31 March 2018.
They added that the top three hawkers at each food centre enabled with QR code who have the highest number of cashless transactions on a monthly basis will receive $388, $288 and $188, respectively, during the same period.
Currently, hawker centres with NETS QR payment capability include Yishun Park Hawker Centre, Tanjong Pagar Plaza Food Centre, Redhill Food Centre and Amoy Street Food Centre.
This follows a trend of new initiatives launched by companies and financial institutions following Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's rally speech this year about making Singapore a smart nation, with cashless transactions being one of the elements of the transformation.
Many commented on the news and voiced concerns over the cost being passed to the merchants and then to the consumers.
Aloysius Leng wrote, "Cashless means the hawkers' earnings will be tracked so no longer able to under declare earnings, if any. This means higher tax and so higher costs which may then be passed down to consumers."
Tsai Teck See wrote, "The fact that the service or admin being waived is disturbing as once ‘honeymoon’ period is over, wouldn’t the hawkers have another reason for increasing their prices to cover the added cost ? Maybe the Government should absorb this!"
Lawrence Ang wrote, "Don't support, the rent will increase. Support and increase limited to CPI."
Some stated that they have never see anyone using the payment model yet.
Esther Lee wrote, "Just a show. Though the hawkers were somehow forced to install it but most of them dislike it and kept or hide it. Didn't see a single soul using it. Just use cash."
Kim Chi Na wrote, "Never saw anybody use leh so I don't dare to use"
Mr Wilkie Ong Keng Soon stated that many hawkers centre are not familiar with the new method of payment.
He wrote, "Not that users don't want to use, some hawkers are still clueless when customers want to pay by NETSPay. They ought to learn and be comfortable using it."
Some stated that they have tried it before but failed miserably and that some method is much faster than QR payment.
M Feng Zhang wrote, "I like it but after many failed attempts, I drop it. Simple issue like Network unavailable problem not resolved, especially during peak hours, how to use? I will only use it when there are no queue behind me, its especially embarrassing when you hold up the queue, so, it kinda defeats the purpose isn't it?"
Casper Tan wrote, "So far no one wants to let me pay using the phone leh. So after a few times, I give up liao. This is call conditioning."
Monkey Guy Lim wrote, "I find My Apple Pay is much faster than the QR payment thing ya!"
Mr Richard Doe stated that in his opinion, NFC payment is a better option, "I do not understand why Singapore wants to follow China. To use a QR code you have to unlock the phone, open the app and scan the code. Isn’t NFC payment a better option?"
Some asked what will happen to old folks who are not familiar with technology.
Keith K L Chong wrote, "What about the old folks. Can they pay cash ? Buying a mobile at their age n can't even read or see. Let alone 'slide' or scan QRs. I hope u will not leave them, behind."
Jeremy Tan wrote, "In the event of system failure and old folks who doesn't carry smartphones, how?"
Ms Lim Mey stated that there should be gradual development for implementation by the banks, "Why implement such things in so short a time? Fix MRT takes 5 years!"
Ms Phy Phong questioned the security and privacy for users, "I still have not heard how data will be secured for privacy and against virus attack."