SINGAPORE - Singpass is widely used to access e-government services, but you can now also buy alcohol with it - at home-grown alcohol retailer Cellarbration's flagship store at Downtown East in Pasir Ris.
Scan the QR code on its three new vending machines with the Singpass app to verify your age - you have to be at least 18 - and then pick your tipple.
Two machines are stocked with beer - which comes in glass bottles or cans - and the other one dispenses champagne, whisky and other spirits.
The selection is picked based on popular drinks and new products. Options include The Singleton 12 Years Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky ($62), Mortlach 20 Years Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky ($265), Rossl Bier ($4.20) and San Miguel beer ($4). Prices are the same as in-store and online ones.
The vending machines - developed with local fintech and AI (artificial intelligence) technology firm Auresys and electronic payment service provider Nets - can be remotely managed at the backend. A robotic arm handles heavy, odd-shaped and fragile items, as well as dispense stubby glass bottles.
A Cellarbration spokesman tells The Straits Times that the idea came about after the Government Technology Agency's (GovTech) showcase in March, which featured new ways that Singpass, the national identification system, can be used to authenticate one's identity and age.
It was also reported that by the third quarter of this year, another Singapore fintech company, Ascan, is planning to launch a new feature in vending machines that allows customers to buy alcoholic beverages using Singpass.
"We were inspired and went on to explore and implement the vending machines that can verify legal drinking ages, instead of using a physical identity card," the Cellarbration spokesman says.
In a press release, Mr Raymond Yap, managing director of Auresys, said: "Embracing digitalisation, optimising and leveraging technology help drive businesses forward, sustain market relevance and revenue growth. Cellarbration has taken a big step in this initiative to expand its retail footprint using automation, AI and unattended verification solution."
According to GovTech, as of this month (August), there are over four million Singpass users, with more than three million using the app.
Cellarbration, which has six other outlets and also runs an online platform for alcohol delivery, is looking to roll out the vending machines across the island - in hotels, chalets and HDB estates.
On why people would use the machine instead of heading to the supermarket, the spokesman says: "The main difference is in cutting out the queue... and being able to quickly quench your thirst for booze."
Curious about the vending machines, Mr Shawn Leng, 41, bought beer from them when he was at the Cellarbration store on Wednesday (Aug 25).
"Aside from scanning the QR code, it works just like any vending machine. It's convenient," says the marketing consultant.
He recommends installing the machines in condominiums, many of which already have vending machines dispensing items such as bread and non-alcoholic beverages.
"You could be buying beer and bread at the same time," he says.