Taskforce set up to develop common QR code for e-payments in Singapore

A file picture of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) building in Shenton Way. PHOTO: SPH

SINGAPORE - A newly formed payments council, set up to look into ways to advance e-payments in Singapore, has created a taskforce specifically to develop a common QR code for Singapore (SGQR) that could be used for e-payments islandwide.

According to a statement from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) on Tuesday (Aug 29), the council had its first meeting on Aug 11, where members advocated the use of QR codebased payments as a practical and convenient way to introduce e-payments to cash-based merchants.

The council has 21 members representing banks, payment service providers, companies and trade associations.

While debit and credit card schemes works well for large merchants and retailers, these solutions are often not feasible for smaller merchants who prefer an infrastructure-light and cheaper solution, the MAS said.

"The council noted, however, that the proliferation of more proprietary QR codes at such merchants risked fragmentation of payment solutions and inefficiency among merchants and consumers," it added.

"Council members agreed that a common QR code could facilitate payments among different payment schemes, e-wallets and banks. It would help make payment transactions simple, swift, seamless and safe for everyone."

The SGQR Taskforce, as it is known, will be co-led by the MAS and the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) and involve a broad range of stakeholders such as banks, payment schemes, QR payment service providers and relevant government agencies.

The taskforce aims to have in place by the end of this year standardised SGQR specifications to accept both domestic and international payment schemes. It will also consider the governance structure and implementation strategy for QR payments.

Mr Yeo Hiang Meng, a member of the payments council and the president of the Federation of Merchants' Association, Singapore (FMAS), said: "Singaporeans are interested in the mobile payment experience. FMAS will work with the MAS, Association of Banks in Singapore and financial institutions to expedite the adoption of the common QR code for mobile payments. We hope to see intensified marketing efforts to encourage businesses and consumers to adopt mobile payments at heartland shops and hawker centres."

Mr Ravi Menon, the chairman of the payments council and MAS' managing director, added: "The council is off to a good start. This is the kind of idea exchange and collaboration that we need within the ecosystem to realise our shared vision of an e-payments society. Our goal is to make the payments experience efficient for businesses and delightful for everyone, including the young and elderly."

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