Nets to roll out new digital payment modes islandwide by mid-2018

Nets to roll out new digital payment modes islandwide by mid-2018
The Nets contactless cards will be launched from the first quarter of next year and they can be used to tap and pay for bus and train rides from June next year. Photo: Robin Choo
Published: 5:18 PM, September 12, 2017
Updated: 11:19 PM, September 12, 2017

SINGAPORE — The race to roll out digital payments nationwide is gathering strong momentum, with leading payment solutions provider Nets to implement various new ways for consumers to pay merchants at all its 100,000 acceptance points by the middle of 
next year. 

By the end of this year, these payment modes — which include QR (quick response) codes allowing for mobile payments, new Nets contactless cards, and an app storing a digital version of Nets ATM cards — can be used at 60,000 acceptance points via unified point-of-sale (POS) terminals, the company’s chief executive Jeffrey Goh said on Tuesday (Sept 12). 

The initiative will then be rolled out to the rest of the acceptance points in the subsequent months. Nets is also planning to launch its own mobile wallet by next year.

Apart from retail transactions, Nets’ new payment modes will be extended to carparks. At the exit gantry, drivers will be able to use their mobile phones to scan a QR code to pay for parking.

Motorists need to sign up for their banks’ electronic wallets in order to use this service. For a start, the QR code system will be available at the carparks of all four Changi Airport terminals by the end of this year. Nets is in discussions with other carpark operators in Singapore. 

“Consumers want choice, while merchants are getting more open and used to adopting e-payments,” said Mr Goh, citing the surge in new merchant acquisitions as a sign of the rising acceptance of electronic payments. In 2011, Nets had 67,000 merchants and this number has grown to 100,000 this year.

“But we need to make it easier for them to use (the payment systems). Merchants just want to interface with one single provider, not 10 different ones. And on their end, they just want to see the payment approval come through, and that’s it,” he added.

Nets’ contactless mobile phone payments will be limited to Android phones with near field communication capabilities. However, iPhone users will still be able to use the QR code system to pay for their transactions.

The digitised Nets ATM cards, within the new NETSPay app, will be available for customers of DBS, OCBC, UOB, Standard Chartered Bank, HSBC and Maybank, and can be scanned at the POS terminals. Both the digitised cards and app will be launched next month.

The Nets contactless cards will be launched from the first quarter of next year. These cards can be used to tap and pay for bus and train rides from June next year, as announced by Senior Minister of State Lam Pin Min in Parliament on Monday.

Nets is also working on making more payment modes available – such as payment via smart watches and a new QR-code based payment interface for restaurants, where customers can pay at their tables. It is also targeting more types of merchants. It has already signed an agreement with Kalm, which operates 300 vending machines, as well as online merchants, to use its new payment modes.

And it is not stopping there. To broaden its merchant base beyond its 100,000 acceptance points, Nets is going after the largely untapped small cash payments market - the 6,000 hawker stalls, 14,000 coffeeshops and 25,000 heartlands shops. Last week, it tied up with the Tanjong Pagar Market & Food Centre to offer QR code payments at the eating place popular with office workers and residents in the area.

The banks welcomed Nets’ push for more digital, cashless modes of payment. 

Ms Choo Wan Sim, UOB’s head of cards and payments, said: “Of all the transactions UOB processes every day, one in two is made using a contactless card or mobile phone. This number will increase as Nets equips its more than 100,000 acceptance points with digital payment capabilities, thereby taking Singapore one step closer to its Smart Nation vision.”

OCBC said it would be working closely with Nets to allow customers to use their card on the new app NetsPay in the coming months. DBS noted that QR code payments via its mobile wallet DBS PayLah! has been hitting some 19,000 transactions per month.

In recent weeks, other companies have also been announcing their plans to roll out e-payment systems. Last Thursday, Singaporean entrepreneur Tan Min-Liang, chief executive of homegrown gaming hardware company Razer, submitted a proposal to the Government for a nationwide e-payment system, after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong responded to his offer on Twitter. Last month, ride-hailing firm Grab announced it will expand its payment platform beyond transport to allow users to pay for food, beverage, retail, entertainment and other goods and services with GrabPay credits.