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Singapore’s Payments Council endorses specifications for national QR code for e-payments

Singapore’s Payments Council endorses specifications for national QR code for e-payments

The Payments Council in Singapore has endorsed the specification for a common Singapore Quick Response Code (SG QR) that can accept electronic payments by both domestic and international payment schemes, e-wallets, and banks. (The Payments Council was formed in August this year with 20 leaders from banks, payment service providers, businesses, and trade associations to encourage collaboration within the payments industry and promote interoperability among e-payments solutions.)

The development of a common QR code was announced in late August 2017, to facilitate Singapore’s move towards a cashless society, which is one of the national strategic projects under Singapore’s Smart Nation plans. The new SG QR was developed by an industry taskforce co-led by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA). The Taskforce consists of twenty members from payment schemes, issuers, acquirers, banks and relevant Government Agencies.

The first of its kind globally, the SG QR includes protocols customised for Singapore, building on the QR specifications of EMVCo, a consortium of international payment schemes (the six member organisations are American Express, Discover, JCB, Mastercard, UnionPay International, and Visa). EMVCo sets standards that are utilised internationally by banks, merchants, processors and vendors.

The SG QR optimises the number of e-payment schemes it contains by improving the efficiency of processing merchant relevant data. The SG QR will be adopted and deployed by payment services providers in Singapore through 2018. For example, NETS QR and Singtel Dash QR will be part of the SG QR.

For merchants currently accepting multiple QRs, payment service providers are developing a governance process for multiple payment schemes to be consolidated into SG QR. Payment service providers will also make it easier for more QR payment options to be onboarded. Merchants who do not currently accept any QR or only one QR code may adopt the SG QR sooner.

Payment service providers have also committed to update their mobile payment apps for consumers to read the SG QR. The Association of Banks in Singapore will include PayNow as part of the SG QR for person-to-person fund transfers. All seven participating PayNow banks will offer added convenience by allowing their customer to transfer funds via PayNow using QR codes. The PayNow service launched in July 2017 links bank accounts to mobile phone numbers or personal national ID numbers, and enables people to make inter-bank transfers into and out of their bank accounts using just the mobile phone number or personal ID number. Within less than 5 months, over 600,000 Singaporeans have registered for PayNow.

Mr. Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief FinTech Officer of MAS, said: “The SG QR is an unprecedented national initiative supported by the industry to provide consumers and merchants with a seamless and streamlined e-payment experience. It will be progressively rolled out across Singapore by payment service providers through 2018.”

“As the operator of Singapore’s national debit scheme with the largest network of acceptance points, NETS supports the SG QR and views adopting the SG QR code as a positive step in transforming Singapore towards an e-payments society. NETS will replace NETS QR at all locations where it is accepted with SG QR over the course of 2018,” said Mr. Jeffrey Goh, Chief Executive Officer, NETS.

Ms. Chua Sock Koong, Singtel Group CEO commented, “As pioneers of mobile payments in Singapore, Singtel is pleased to support SG QR by introducing it on Singtel Dash. This marks a major milestone in our digital journey.  QR standard codes will certainly encourage more consumers and merchants to go digital in Singapore’s push to become a Smart Nation.”

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