The future of payments

25 January 2018


As part of the move towards a Smart Nation, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong shared during last year’s National Day Rally that national efforts are underway to accelerate the initiation of electronic payments.


China is already making great headway in mobile payments. In 2016, the volume of mobile payments in China more than doubled, surging to a total of $5 trillion. This is in no small part due to the two biggest mobile pay apps: with Alipay accounting for 54 percent of transactions, and WeChat Pay for 40 percent. In fact, cash is not a valid form of payment at some merchantsi.


While Singapore has more to work on towards e-payment, we are plotting our own trajectory towards becoming a cashless society. An initiative that has already kickstarted was the facilitation of e-payments at hawker centres -- Paying for your $3 bowl of porridge at a hawker centre using your phone is no longer a dream. Over 250 hawkers islandwide are accepting payment via DBS’s PayLah! appii.



E-wallet apps like Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay were introduced back in 2016, and now there are more than 50,000 contactless payment terminals, including those at fast-food chain McDonald’s, and major supermarkets Cold Storage and FairPrice.


Merchants will need to bear the 3 per cent transaction fee for payments made using these e-wallet apps, but their use is free for customers.


Last year’s launch of PayNow has also made instant bank transfer across different banks as easy as a few taps on the mobile phone with just the recipient’s IC or mobile number. It is expected to be extended for merchant payments at the middle of this yeariii.


With a strong push towards e-payment solutions, it’s time for businesses to keep up with the changes. Here’s why you should start embracing these new payment methods:



No more fumbling with the safe, or trips to the bank with a zipper envelope and calculating the pieces of $50 notes at the end of the day. Going cashless is not only convenient, it is much simpler – for both you and your customers.


Visa’s popular PayWave TV commercials explain it all. Instead of dealing with cumbersome cash, consumers just need to tap/wave their cards for a smooth and quick transaction. This effectively speeds up the queue at the cashier, allowing more customers to patronise your establishment. 


As cashless payment becomes more pervasive and widely accepted, cash registers could become obsolete in the near future.



With transactions digitally recorded, managing your accounts is easier. You can track your transaction logs for a comprehensive list of information surrounding your business’ cash flow.


Additionally, these records serve as valuable data and potential insights on buying trends and peak hoursiv. These insights enable you to structure promotional offers to capitalise on popular items, or to increase sales during off-peak hours.


Increased transparency also allows you to quickly identify where your business needs to improve in, be it revenue or cost centres, and make sound adjustments that are well justified.


However, before you jump right into incorporating new payment methods, take time to factor in these challenges:



New types of fraud are continuing to be developed by hackers who can bypass security measures. This is especially pertinent as payment from digital wallets often bypass regulations and the banks’ clearing systems.


It is important to be proactively implementing and updating security solutions to combat fraud. PayPal’s Seller Protection Guarantee not only makes sure payment is processed correctly and received by you, it also helps to resolve issues with your sales should your buyers make fraudulent claims.

Systems integration


Some of the new online payment methods have specialised technology that can be difficult to integrate with other platforms and hardware.


Thankfully, unified payment systems are being rolled out which will make integration less of a challenge. For example, the government will incentivize both merchants and users, and even waive all terminal and transaction fees for the first three years, to encourage adoption of NETS QR codev. Razer, best known for its line of gaming accessories, and its CEO Tan Min-Liang submitted a 36-page proposal to the Prime Minister’s Office, drafting out a plan to have a common e-payment solution up and running in eighteen months.


Electronic payments make transactions simple, swift and safe for both consumers and businesses. With e-payments, the digitisation of business processes will be boosted, which in turn can enhance productivity, reduce costs, and create new business models for companies in the digital economy.


Follow StarHub Business on Linkedin for the latest business updates.

Leverage the festive season to boost your ROI

Strategies for a successful retail campaign.

Read more
Building a mobile workforce

A handy guide to prepare your business for greater mobility.

Read more
The extreme makeover for traditional businesses

How 80s businesses have evolved to sustain and prosper.

Read more