Objectively, Razer’s decision to give away millions of masks to Singapore residents is a generous gesture.
But it’s been catching quite a bit of flak online over that fact that the initiative requires getting on board the company’s mobile e-wallet app, Razer Pay.
Negative feedback started emerging after it was revealed that Singapore residents would be entitled to receiving a free made-by-Razer surgical mask each... but the catch is that they have to download the Razer Pay app and sign up for an account first.
Once the account is verified, they will receive a digital coupon that can be scanned at one of Razer’s mask-distributing vending machines, which will soon be deployed islandwide. Razer Pay’s verification system is fraud-free, the company proudly claimed, ensuring that every verified Singapore resident will be issued a mask. The app would also provide locations of the vending machines for users to find the nearest one in a jiffy.
Skepticism was rife on social media, with netizens questioning the intention behind the charitable project. Most of the backlash were rooted in how it doubles as a method to rapidly increase the adoption rate for Razer’s fledgeling electronic payments system.Screengrab via Reddit; Facebook
Then there’s the concern over the collection of personal data in exchange for a disposable mask that can only be used once. To verify one’s account on Razer Pay, users will have to provide their NRIC or passport details to “ensure a secure usage environment”.
It’s quite an extensive process too — users have to provide data such as names, nationalities, dates of birth and residential addresses. This, on top of submitting front and back photos of their NRIC and their selfie.Screengrab / Facebook
There’s also the issue that making Razer Pay mandatory could potentially leave the less technologically savvy, such as the elderly, out of the initiative.Screengrab / Facebook
Well aware of the criticisms, Razer CEO Tan Min-Liang made clarifications on the Singapore subreddit about why utilising Razer Pay would be the safest way to prevent fraudulent claims of free masks.
“Actually that's the only way we could figure out how to prevent fraud. We aren't the government and have no access to the NRIC. We're funding this entirely ourselves,” he wrote in a Reddit thread, adding that the company is not forcing anyone to redeem Razer’s masks.
“We would've been happy to use any other system that would allow us to given every Singaporean a mask. But if you think about it, it's easier said than done,” he wrote.
“I think it's easy to be cynical and assume it's a ploy to get user base. But candidly, there are easier ways than to give millions of masks (which is something everyone needs right now) away.”
Tan has also brought the same sentiments to his Facebook page, once again declaring that verification via Razer Pay is the only way to ensure there’s no “free for all on the masks”.
“We aren't the government and have no access to the Identity Cards etc. We're funding this completely ourselves and would like to ensure there's no fraud.”
At the end of the day, Tan has a bigger legion of fanboys than haters and received a massive number of supportive comments over the initiative. As for how Razer's vending machines will be received in public, one would just have to wait for them to be rolled out islandwide by the end of the month.
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