The Singapore spirit has shone through brightly amidst a global pandemic that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives worldwide. But Singaporeans have rallied to do their bit to give back, spread kindness and pay it forward. 

It is surely with mixed feelings that Singapore celebrates its 55th birthday amidst a global pandemic. But in these challenging times, there is good and kindness that has proven that the Singapore spirit is indomitable. One of the country’s most recognisable and ubiquitous brands — EZ-Link — is determined to do its part to give back to society and celebrate the heroes that have helped pull the nation through the hard times.

It has launched two sets of special edition National Day EZ-Link cards, developed in partnership with the Singapore Red Cross and the Singapore Kindness Movement. In solidarity with Singapore’s frontline heroes and volunteers, EZ-Link will be donating $50,000 in card sales proceeds to the Singapore Red Cross.

The donation will be channelled to support vulnerable communities, including the isolated elderly, families-in-need and persons with severe disabilities. Options speaks to EZLink CEO Nicholas Lee to find out more.

Tell us about the new National Day special edition EZ-Link cards, and the initiative to donate $50,000 to the Singapore Red Cross.

As a home-grown Singaporean brand, we have always been committed to serving our community in a sustainable, responsible and beneficial way. Beyond offering commercial services, we keep on the lookout for ways to give back — one of the ways we do so is through our collaborations with non-profit organisations.

This year, we partnered with the Singapore Red Cross and the Singapore Kindness Movement to release a special edition of National Day EZ-Link cards. As we look to celebrate Singapore’s 55th birthday, we wanted to pay tribute to the frontline heroes and volunteers that keep Singapore safe.

The global pandemic has brought so much disruption and uncertainty, and we owe it to the efforts of these unsung heroes to keep our communities united and strong. The exclusive collaboration features five new card designs that are locally inspired — the Singapore Red Cross designs depict volunteers offering assistance in everyday situations, while the designs by the Singapore Kindness Movement feature the country’s iconic courtesy mascot Singa the Lion, decked in local uniforms and standing in solidarity in front of prominent Singapore landmarks.

We have done similar initiatives in the last couple of years, partnering with various non-profit organisations such as Very Special Arts Singapore and Community Chest to launch exclusive card designs and channel our sales proceeds to these organisations. We found that this was an effective platform for the public to engage with small acts of doing good and altogether, we donated $300,000 in support of the less fortunate in our society.

Why is this initiative important? What is the driving force behind it?

In these times of crisis, we felt it was especially important to remind Singaporeans of the power of humanity, and inspire them to care for the vulnerable and less privileged around them. By partnering with these local non-profit organisations who are dedicated to supporting these communities, we are able to drive greater awareness around the work that they do and further their cause.

There’s no doubt that the Singapore Red Cross and the Singapore Kindness Movement have had a significant impact on our society over the past few decades. During this pandemic, they have continued to work tirelessly to serve the community.

The Singapore Red Cross has always supported vulnerable groups through programmes like Community FirstAid, ElderAid and Family LifeAid, while the Singapore Kindness Movement fosters a more gracious society and encourages more Singaporeans to be kind.

We wanted to take the opportunity — alongside the upcoming National Day celebrations — to spotlight these everyday heroes and bring their stories to life. On top of showcasing appreciation for them through the card designs, we also wanted to leverage this occasion to spur more acts of giving, whether through small actions like volunteering, making donations, or giving blood to ensure a safe and adequate supply of blood for those who need it. Only by building a greater, kinder society, can we build resilience to overcome all challenges together.

Looking at our upcoming National Day and the almost 20 years that EZ-Link has been a part of our daily journeys, share your thoughts about the future of EZ-Link, its mission, goals and future plans.

Our goal is to transform EZ-Link to become a more modern brand in line with the times — and while we want to maintain our position as a strong anchor in transportation, we are also focused on meeting our consumers’ overall lifestyle needs and digital habits. In today’s digital economy, it goes without saying that we need to establish a strong digital, online presence to effectively engage our consumers.

That is why we continually explore ways to upgrade our app and services to enhance user experience and bring added convenience with our Express Top Up and Auto Top Up (EZ-Reload) features, amongst many others. In our efforts to support small local businesses, we allow them to tap on our customer base at no cost and in return they offer a valuable service to our users.

Last year, we had close to half a million redemptions on our platform. Since December 2017, we have had more than one million downloads and will continue to work hard to bring value-added services to a wider group of audience.

One of our strategies is to leverage the daily affinity we have built with our consumers. For instance, our recent Snack partnership with NTUC Income (which allows users to tag premium payments that are less than $1 to various activities such as travel on public transport or buying food and drinks) offers micro-insurance based on their daily transport triggers. Customers can accumulate insurance coverage each time they pay for transport using their EZLink card, and benefit from easier, more consumable access to insurance without high premiums.

We want to continue expanding on our collaboration with other providers, so we can keep offering our consumers value-added services.

Looking ahead, a key area of focus for us is to keep mapping out the EZ-Link journey for our customers from cradle to silver (generation). We want to cultivate an inclusive brand that resonates with Singaporeans across their whole life journey, and effectively bring value and convenience to people of different age groups with varied needs.

Be it playing an active role in boosting digital literacy, or rolling out innovations like a dedicated app for senior citizens, we are committed to being here for the long haul, and catering to the needs of all Singaporeans.

How does EZ-Link plan on overcoming the challenges as public transportation and retail use drops during this pandemic?

There has inevitably been a reduction in public transportation and retail spending over the past few months, and we do foresee this persisting in the near future as consumers remain cautious about their daily movements. At the same time, we do have a larger plan for our digital transformation journey that goes beyond our current services.

We aspire to be a part of our consumers’ digital lifestyle, by enabling digital EZ-Link payments not only across the entire mobility system, but also for everyday needs like food, grocery delivery services and e-commerce. In doing so, we are mindful to expand our digital payments offerings in a way that is inclusive and empowers all consumers — including those who may face limitations like a lack of access to credit cards — with choice and flexibility in their digital transactions.

As part of our collaboration with the SG Digital Office to promote cashless payments, our EZLink wallet is compatible for use with the unified SGQR code. This will make digital payments more accessible for consumers, and overall, accelerate its adoption in the country.

During this period, we have also reached out to more local F&B partners to offer them exposure on our platform at no cost. This is a win-win solution — they get to reach out to a larger customer base, while our consumers benefit from variety, choice, and perks from the merchants.