Aug 21, 2017 06:06 PM

Singapore Prime Minister Features Alipay in Speech on E-Payment Drive

Singapore -- Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told a National Day rally that the city-state will launch a series of e-payment initiatives to propel its transformation into a “Smart Nation” for people to live, work and play in.


In a speech on Aug. 20, Mr. Lee presented a photo of an in-taxi LCD screen displaying an Alipay logo as he explained that people in China can now conduct nearly all payments simply by scanning a QR code.

Mr. Lee featured the Alipay image to make his point: Singapore is lagging behind other cities in electronic payments. “In major Chinese cities … cash is already obsolete and even debit and credit cards are becoming rare,” he said. This contrasts sharply with Singapore, where cash and checks still account for six in 10 transactions.

All this is not to say that mobile payments have yet to reach Singapore. Chinese visitors to the country can already pay taxi fares in RMB via Alipay, for example. Following a partnership with ComforDelGro, Singapore’s largest taxi company, announced last Friday, Alipay is now accepted in more than 15,000 ComforDelGro taxis across the city. Overall, Alipay is now a payment option in over 80% of Singapore’s taxis.

Alipay first became a payment option in Singapore in 2015 and is now accepted by more than 2,000 merchants, including Universal Studios Singapore, Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore Zoo, department stores under Metro and Robinsons, and a series of hawker centers.

“We are honored to have been referenced in Prime Minister Lee’s presentation and are encouraged by Singapore’s determination to embrace new forms of payment. Alipay is dedicated to bringing Chinese visitors and local merchants reliable, convenient and efficient ways of living and doing business,” said Dayong Zhang, head of Alipay Southeast Asia. “Chinese tourists can now travel to Singapore with just a smartphone and their passport. Whether they want to hail a cab or find a place to visit, Alipay and its in-app Discovery platform are all they need to enjoy a convenient, genuinely local experience.”

Singapore’s Smart Nation and Digital Government Office said that 25,000 unified-point-of-sales terminals, which accept multiple payment options including credit cards and contactless payments via mobile phone, are expected to be deployed island-wide over the next 18 months, making payment simpler and more cost-efficient for local consumers and businesses.

Other e-payment initiatives driven by the Singapore Government include: a common QR code, to be rolled out in six months' time, which consumers and small businesses can use to receive money via PayNow, a newly launched service that allows people to transfer funds to someone’s mobile number rather than bank account number and supports cross-bank transactions; and account-based ticketing, an initiative already piloted by the Land Transport Authority, that will allow commuters to use contactless bank cards to pay for trips without the need for top-up.

The e-payments drive is among five strategic national projects the Singapore government is working on to promote widespread use of smart technologies.

"(It is about) using (information technology) comprehensively to create new jobs, new business opportunities, to make our economy more productive, to make our lives more convenient, and to make this an outstanding city in which to live, work and play," Prime Minister Lee said.

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