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Cashless payment trial for public transport to be expanded

SINGAPORE — From June next year, commuters can use contactless Visa or Nets 2.0 cards to tap and pay for their bus and train rides, in an expansion of a trial that started with Mastercard holders in March, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said on Monday (Sept 11).

The new account-based ticketing system will also be extended to mobile payment modes, such as Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay, from the first quarter of next year under the Mastercard trial, the Land Transport Authority said on Monday (Sep 11).

The new account-based ticketing system will also be extended to mobile payment modes, such as Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay, from the first quarter of next year under the Mastercard trial, the Land Transport Authority said on Monday (Sep 11).

SINGAPORE — From June next year, commuters can use contactless Visa or Nets 2.0 cards to tap and pay for their bus and train rides, in an expansion of a trial that started with Mastercard holders in March, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said on Monday (Sept 11).

The new account-based ticketing system will also be extended to mobile payment modes, such as Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay, from the first quarter of next year under the Mastercard trial, the LTA added. 

Commuters will then be able to use their mobile phones to pay for their fares. So far, more than 100,000 commuters have signed up for the Mastercard pilot, with an average of over 60,000 transactions daily. 

Speaking in Parliament on Monday, Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min said the system will eventually be fully rolled out across the entire public transport system. 

“Our aim is for commuters, including tourists, to avoid the hassle of doing cash top-ups. 

“Topping up with cash is cumbersome for the commuter as he has to queue up to withdraw cash, then queue up again to top up the card. Maintaining cash facilities at MRT stations and buses also imposes additional costs of almost S$20 million a year,” he said.

The LTA and TransitLink had said last month that cash payments or top-ups for public transport services will be phased out completely by 2020, as part of the Republic’s move towards becoming a Smart Nation. 

Visa said on Monday that consumers in Singapore use its payWave contactless cards to make more than eight million contactless transactions per month.  

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Nets, Singapore’s leading payment network, said: “Nets 2.0 is about digital payments, whether it is in the form of physical contactless Nets ATM bankcards, digitised Nets ATM bankcards on mobile phones, smart wearables linked to your Nets ATM bankcard or Nets QR code payment.” 

Dr Lam was replying to questions from Members of Parliament (MPs) on the plan to implement a cashless public transport system. 

Among other things, the MPs wanted to know how the Government would help senior citizens get on board the cashless initiative. 

In response, Dr Lam said the transition will be managed over several years and that attention will be focused on the “small minority” of commuters who need assistance. 

For instance, 150 service agents — of whom about a quarter are senior citizens — will be deployed over the next nine months to help commuters learn how to use ticketing machines.  

He said that more will be done to help the elderly go cashless, while noting that a high proportion of Singaporeans, including seniors, already hold bank accounts. 

This can be seen from the Goods and Services Tax voucher scheme, where only a small number encash cheques, he said.

“To ensure that the elderly have access to affordable and convenient basic banking services, many major retail banks have already offered basic banking accounts since 2002. 

“These accounts come with ATM or debit card facilities … and can be maintained at a very low cost,” he said, noting that banks waive the account service fees for those on public assistance.

“However, we understand that many elderly may not be aware of these services. MOT (Ministry of Transport) and MAS (Monetary Authority of Singapore) will work with the industry and grassroots organisations to reach out to this group of elderly, to help them to transit to e-payment options. Family members can also help top up for these seniors via mobile apps.”

In response to suggestions by MPs that cost savings from going cashless be used to help and educate seniors, he said that this will be taken into consideration. 

The LTA is also working with other agencies such as the MAS to make electronic payments more accessible to all, including those who do not have bank accounts, such as some foreign workers.


CORRECTION: In an earlier version of the story, we attributed the comments made in Parliament to Second Minister for Transport Ng Chee Meng. The comments were in fact given by Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min.

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