Nets 2.0 to include wristband, app as company reinvents to stay relevant

A market launch date for the Nets band has yet to be decided.
A market launch date for the Nets band has yet to be decided.ST PHOTO: WANG HUI FEN

SINGAPORE - Nets has put on trial a prototype of a wristband that acts as a pay card, as the company looks to innovation to strengthen its foothold in the increasingly sophisticated digital payment ecosystem.

Called the Nets Band, the product idea, which was first explored in 2011 but eventually scrapped, is already functional.

The company is also working with banks to develop a smartphone application that will allow consumers to use their mobile devices as a Nets ATM card for contactless payment. It is scheduled to be rolled out in the second half of next year. It will be designed to debit directly from a linked bank account and will not require top-up.

About 800 Nets Bands were given out as gifts at the firm's 30th-anniversary dinner on Wednesday but a market launch date has yet to be decided.

Chief executive Jeffrey Goh said the company is keenly aware of the increasing complexity in the payment ecosystem as technologies evolve.

"As we are at the crossroads of rapid convergences of payments, devices, technology, telecommunications and media, staying status quo is not an option.

"Nets has to re-invent itself to stay relevant to customers, retailers, businesses and banks (in the next 30 years)," he added, calling the initiative "Nets 2.0".

Nets was formed in 1985 by the three local banks to spearhead electronic debit payments and there are around 10 million Nets-enabled ATM cards here.

In 2009 FlashPay cards were introduced. These can be used for tap-and-go contactless payment at about 87,000 merchant acceptance points across Singapore as well as on the MRT and LRT public transport lines.

As well as the Nets Band, the mobile phone application will be the key thrust of Nets 2.0.

Meanwhile, Nets expects to expand its contactless network to 100,000 acceptance points by end of 2017, Mr Goh told The Straits Times.

"All new solutions take time to gain traction, but our growth rate shows us there's no resistance against Nets payments from both consumers and merchants," he said.

whwong@sph.com.sg