Taskforce set up to develop common QR Code for Singapore to give fillip to cashless society

In its endeavour towards cashless society and as part of Singapore’s Smart Nation agenda, an industry taskforce has been formed to develop a common QR code for Singapore -SGQR. The decision has been taken by the Payment Council today which mulled over the issue.

The SGQR Taskforce will be co-led by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (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.

OCBC Bank has been pushing for QR code payments in Singapore.
OCBC Bank has been pushing for QR code payments in Singapore. Photo courtesy: OCBC Bank

“The SGQR Taskforce aims to have in place by the end of 2017, standardised SGQR specifications to accept both domestic and international payment schemes. It will also consider the governance structure and implementation strategy for QR payments,” stated MAS in a press release issued today.

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.

Ravi Menon, Chairman of the Payments Council and Managing Director of the MAS, said, “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.”

Yeo Hiang Meng, member of the Payments Council and 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.”

Council members advocated the use of QR code-based payments as a practical and convenient way to introduce e-payments to cash-based merchants. While debit and credit card schemes worked well for large merchants and retailers, these solutions were often not feasible for smaller merchants who preferred an infrastructure-light and cheaper solution.  

The Council also welcomed the development of PayNow, the recently launched peer-to-peer (P2P) funds transfer service. PayNow is a good example of an infrastructure rail that makes e-payments interoperable.

By linking mobile numbers/NRIC to bank accounts, it allows consumers to transfer money to anyone who has registered for the service. PayNow is currently offered by seven banks, and has seen more than 500,000 registrations and more than SGD10 million in transfers since its launch.