SINGAPORE (Nov 21): Payment service providers in Singapore by next year will adopt and deploy 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 Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) on Monday announced that the Payments Council has endorsed the first-of-its-kind SG QR, which includes protocols customised for Singapore.

SG QR builds on the QR specifications of EMVCo, a consortium of international payment schemes including American Express, Discover, JCB, Mastercard, UnionPay International, and Visa.

“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,” says Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief Fintech Officer of MAS.

For merchants currently accepting multiple QRs, payment service providers are developing a governance process for multiple payment schemes to be consolidated into SG QR, MAS says. Payment service providers will also make it easier for more QR payment options to be added.

The central bank adds that merchants who do not currently accept any QR or only one QR code may adopt the SG QR sooner.

Payment service providers such as NETS QR and Singtel Dash QR have also committed to update their mobile payment apps for consumers to read the SG QR.

Singtel on Monday launched SG QR on its all-in-one mobile payments app to allow customers to pay using the SG QR code at Singtel canteens across Singapore as well as Nanyang Technological University, Ngee Ann Polytechnic and Nanyang Polytechnic.

The telco says users of its app, which is available to all consumers, regardless of telco relationship or handsets, will be able to use this payment option at more than 1,000 merchants and hawker centres by the first quarter of 2018.

“We are pleased to offer more payment options on Singtel Dash. To support the government's goal of transforming Singapore into a cashless society, we will continue to enhance Singtel Dash’s features to deliver a ubiquitous mobile payments wallet for everyone,” says Yuen Kuan Moon, Chief Executive Officer, Consumer Singapore, Singtel.

“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,” says Chua Sock Koong, Singtel Group CEO.

In addition, 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 – Citibank Singapore, DBS Bank, HSBC, Maybank, OCBC Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, and United Overseas Bank – will offer added convenience by allowing their customer to transfer funds via PayNow using QR codes.

“With more tourists familiar with QR payments overseas as well as the high mobile phone penetration among Singapore residents, it is good foresight by the Payments Council to enable a broad spectrum of our retailers to be able to offer a streamlined single QR code,” says R Dhinakaran, president of the Singapore Retailers Association (SRA).

“Many of our cash-based merchants can also be quickly digitised with QR payments,” he adds.