Wristband for Nets payment in trial stage

A market launch date has not been decided for the Nets Band.
A market launch date has not been decided for the Nets Band.ST PHOTO: WANG HUI FEN

Imagine having a wristband that functions exactly like a Nets FlashPay card: Just wave it in front of an acceptance point at a convenience store and you will have paid for your purchase.

The product is no fantasy. Dubbed the Nets Band, the device is in prototype trial, after being explored initially in 2011 but was eventually scrapped.

It has come to the fore again as the company looks to innovation as a way of strengthening its foothold in the increasingly sophisticated payment ecosystem.

Nets is also working with banks to develop an application that will allow consumers to use their mobile devices as a Nets ATM card for contactless payment.

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

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

Calling the initiative "Nets 2.0", he added: "As we are at the crossroads of rapid convergences of payments, devices, technology, telecommunications and media, staying status quo is not an option.

"To stay alive in the next 30 years, Nets has to re-invent itself to stay relevant to customers, retailers, businesses and banks."

Nets was formed in 1985 by the three local banks to spearhead electronic debit payments. 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.

In addition to the Nets Band, the mobile phone application will be the key thrust of Nets 2.0.

The app, which is due for roll-out by banks in the second half of next year, will essentially transform a mobile phone into a virtual Nets ATM card that can be used for contactless payment at acceptance points.

It will debit directly from a linked bank account and will not require top-up.

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

The pace of expansion will continue to pick up, he said, adding: "It took us 27 years to build a network of 67,000 points, and, the last three years, we grew to 87,000 points.

"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."

In addition to the Nets Band, the mobile phone application will be the key thrust of Nets 2.0. The app, which is due for roll-out by banks in the second half of next year, will essentially transform a mobile phone into a virtual Nets ATM card that can be used for contactless payment at acceptance points.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 17, 2015, with the headline 'Wristband for Nets payment in trial stage'. Print Edition | Subscribe