By ONG BOON KIAT
CONTACTLESS e-payment, using mobile phones to tap and pay for everyday items and services for instance, is set to get a further leg up with a new government initiative.
The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) yesterday issued a call for collaboration (CFC) to boost the presence of contactless point of sales (POS) terminals in Singapore, giving consumers more outlets to make e-payments in future.
IDA said it will provide funding support for proposals that could eventually spawn hordes of contactless POS terminals across Singapore - in food courts, coffee shops, fast food outlets, convenience stores and even in vending machines. Such deployments are expected to bear fruit over the next 18 months.
'IDA welcomes all companies that are interested to deploy contactless POS terminals and aims to award to multiple companies for this CFC,' said an IDA spokesman.
The grants will be awarded by IDA in late July this year.
This CFC is part of IDA's overall programme to promote e-payment adoption, particularly interoperable mobile payments that harness near field communication (NFC), said the government agency.
NFC refers to a field of short-range high frequency communication technology that enables data exchange between devices to facilitate electronic transactions at a very short range, typically under 10cm.
Under the CFC, participants are required to complete their contactless POS terminal deployment within 18 months from accepting their grants from IDA. Each deployment should include more than 100 terminals.
Participants are also required to include those merchants that will be a draw for potential adopters of NFC mobile payment, who are typically consumers between 18 and 35 years old, IDA said.
Other criteria includes compliance to standards and interoperability.
The CFC stated that the POS terminals must be compliant with a budding Singapore e-payment standard called Cepas, or Contactless e-Purse Application. This standard is spearheaded by IDA with industry players like the Land Transport Authority (LTA).
The terminals must also accept at least one type of Cepas-compliant multi-purpose stored-value cards which can be used for transit payments.
Mobile e-payment activities and interest have surged in Singapore recently.
Nets (Network for Electronic Transfers) this month announced it is launching a contactless debit card in September, which can be used by consumers to tap and pay for a variety of services and charges, including shopping, bus and MRT rides, road tolls and carpark charges.
EZ-Link, in January, rolled out a new generation of multi-purpose stored value card to replace its existing ez-link cards used predominantly by public transport commuters here.
MobileOne recently announced that it will be conducting trials for a mobile payment scheme in May that lets customers tap and pay for purchases with their mobile phones at more than 750 retail outlets.
'Together with other efforts by the industry, we will be able to see a more vibrant ecosystem for contactless payment and subsequently NFC mobile payment,' said IDA's spokesman.
'Relative to the number of contact-based POS terminals, the number of contactless POS terminals in Singapore is very small . . . As the deployment of contactless POS terminals would take time, it is timely for this CFC to jumpstart the deployment now so that we can be ready for NFC mobile payments in the near future.'
This article was first published in The Business Times.