MAS urges retailers to embrace QR payments


The Monetary Authority of Singapore has urged Singapore’s small-scale retailers to adopt QR code-based payments, considering it a “practical and convenient” way to introduce consumer-friendly e-payments services into a cash-dominated retail industry, the Singapore regulator’s Payment’s Council said.

MAS’s Payments Council has dedicated itself to the task, establishing an industry taskforce to develop a common QR code for the city-state (SGQR). The Council’s aim is not only to spur the adoption of e-payments within the sector but also to avoid the potential fragmentation of payments services – causing interoperability headaches for both customers and retailers.

The SGQR Taskforce will be co-led by MAS and Singapore’s Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) and will involve a broad range of stakeholders, including banks, payment schemes, QR payment service providers, and relevant government agencies, MAS said in a statement.

The SGQR Taskforce plans to have standardised specifications for QR code payments – accepting both domestic and international payment schemes – by the end of 2017. It will also consider the governance structure and implementation strategy for QR-based payments.

Ravi Menon, chairman of the Payments Council and managing director of MAS said: “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.”

E-payments have made limited in-roads within Singapore’s bustling small-scale retail industry, including popular heartland stores and hawker centres. While MAS acknowledged that debit and credit card schemes have worked well for large merchants and retailers, “these solutions were often not feasible for smaller merchants who preferred an infrastructure-light and cheaper solution,” hence the need for a suitable solution to bridge the gap.

The Council noted that the while use of and demand for e-payments within Singapore has grown significantly, the sheer variety of payment options has created interoperability issues among these variegated solutions.

“Interoperable solutions should allow for Singaporeans to make payments to one another, regardless of the payment solution chosen,” the council noted. While Singapore has the “right infrastructure in place to achieve this vision” it needs better coordination within the ecosystem of banks and other industry players, the regulator said.