Razer submits proposal for unified e-payment system

Mr Tan Min-Liang said on Twitter that his tech firm Razer could get a unified e-payment system up and running in 18 months. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

SINGAPORE - Tech firm Razer has submitted its proposal for a unified e-payment system for Singapore on Thursday (Sept 7) afternoon - just making the two-week deadline set by chief executive Tan Min-Liang.

The proposed-payment system, dubbed RazerPay by the company, reiterates existing guidelines set by the Government on what such a system should look like.

The RazerPay system aims to be a cloud-based e-wallet which can be accessed through a variety of ways, such as a mobile app, a stored value card or a chip.

Razer said its system aims to be inter-operable (works with all other e-payment solutions) but the parts of the proposal made public do not go any further in providing details of how Razer's system would work.

It did, however, pledge to hire Singaporeans to lead the initiative and said that it would commit $10 million in seed funding for it while aiming to get one million sign-ups in 18 months, which is by May 2019.

It also announced six new job positions in the company that would work on RazerPay, ranging from engineers to merchant acquirers.

Razer is currently not a player in Singapore's already crowded e-payment scene.

The company's proposal thus also seems to focus on the eventuality that Razer did not become the provider of the nationwide e-payment system.

In the event that a different common e-payment system gains mass adoption, Razer said it would "cease the focus on RazerPay and support the said third party e-payment solution"

A part of its proposal is also focused on how Razer will provide feedback, development and advisory support for a common e-payment framework that will be managed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). It included plans to set up an advisory board to provide advice on the e-payment framework.

"Our recommendation is to have the Monetary Authority of Singapore oversee and promote this open framework," Mr Tan said in a Facebook post.

In its proposal, Razer said that the authority was the right entity to oversee the establishment of the framework.

Razer sent the 36-page proposal to the Prime Minister's Office, MAS and the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office on Thursday, making publicly available a nine-page executive summary.

This proposal came about after a brief Twitter exchange between Mr Tan and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. PM Lee had first tweeted ahead of his National Day Rally speech on Aug 20 that e-payment systems in Singapore were inconvenient for consumers and costly for businesses as there were too many of them here.

In response, Mr Tan tweeted back two days later, saying that Razer could get such a system up and running in 18 months. PM Lee took up Mr Tan's offer, tweeting back: "Make me a proposal, and I will study it seriously."

Mr Tan told The Straits Times on Aug 24 that the company would have such a proposal ready and submitted to the government in two weeks or less. "We began work on the proposal right after the Prime Minister responded to my tweet," Mr Tan told ST in an e-mail. "We expect to assemble a team of some of the best payments engineers and experts in Singapore."

Razer is best known for its line of gaming accessories such as keyboards and mice, and recorded revenues of US$392 million (S$534 million) last year.

In recent years,the United States-registered company has ventured into areas such as professional audio, mobile phones and, in 2017, e-payments.

Analysts say that while introducing a payment system like RazerPay is feasible, the real challenge lies in its adoption by users.

"Simultaneous and quick adoption by customers and merchants might be challenging," said Dr Jan Ondrus, associate professor of Information Systems at ESSEC Business School.

"The main issue is that there are many alternatives (bank-or startup-driven solutions) at the moment. To me, the push has to come from the merchants."

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