Parliamentary Replies
Published Date: 03 September 2019

Reply to Parliamentary Question on the adoption rate of e-payments in Singapore





Date: For Parliament Sitting on 3 September 2019

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Mr Ang Wei Neng, MP, Jurong GRC


To ask the Prime Minister (a) what is the current adoption rate of PayNow and PayNow Corporate; (b) whether the adoption rate has met the Ministry's target; (c) what is the current adoption rate of QR code payment in Singapore, especially at hawker centres; and (d) what is the plan to further push the adoption rate of cashless transactions in Singapore.

Answer by Mr Ong Ye Kung, Minister for Education, on behalf of Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Senior Minister and Minister in charge of MAS:

1.     Since the launch of PayNow in July 2017 and PayNow Corporate in August 2018, take-up has been encouraging.

  • There have been 2.8 million individual registrations for PayNow, of which 1.8 million are bank accounts linked to mobile phone numbers and the remainder linked to NRIC numbers. We estimate that more than 65% of Singaporeans aged between 20 to 75 years old have already registered for PayNow, and the numbers are still increasing.
  • As for PayNow Corporate, over 115,000 unique entity numbers (“UENs”) have been registered. This represents approximately half of the total number of UENs issued to active businessesAfter discounting the number of UENs attributed to inactive businesses, and sole proprietorships which may be registered as individuals. . The numbers are also on an upward trend. 
  • Two years ago, when PayNow was launched, there were about 150,000 transactions totaling about S$24 million in the first month of operations. In July this year, the volumes had increased to over 5 million transactions, with total values above S$1 billion per month.     

2.     Mr Ang also asked about the adoption of QR code payments. QR codes are a low cost and effective way for merchants to receive e-payments from their customers. In September 2018, we collaborated with the industry to launch SGQR, our national QR code that consolidated the various QRs of international and domestic payment schemes into a single unified interface. Since then, over 32,000 SGQR codes have been deployed across a range of merchants including hawker centres, retail stores, F&B outlets, supermarkets and healthcare outlets. This represents a penetration rate of about 20% of all retail acceptance points nationwide, so there is more work to do. 

3.     Specifically on hawker centres, Enterprise Singapore has collaborated with NETS to deploy a unified e-payment solution at small food businesses since December 2018. To date, SGQR labels and unified point-of-sale terminals have been deployed at over 500 stalls spread across 10 hawker centres, 22 coffeeshops, and 12 industrial canteens. E-payments usage at these stalls is gradually increasing and four out of five e-payment transactions are via SGQR. While the volume of e-payments is still low compared to cash, we expect it to grow. E-payments are convenient to use at hawker stalls, and payment operators are looking into ways to make it even more convenient for hawkers. 

4.     Let me take the opportunity to reiterate our approach to promoting e-payments in Singapore. We made a deliberate decision to not have one player dominate the landscape. Instead, we put in place the backbone infrastructure, so that multiple providers can compete and innovate to increase consumer choice, while encouraging interoperability.

5.     As a result, Singaporeans can now make e-payments in multiple ways which are simple, swift and secure. Singaporeans are making more contactless payments using credit and debit cards, including via Apple Pay and Google Pay, QR payments via e-wallets, and PayNow. As a result, the ratio of cash and cheque usage relative to e-payments has decreased significantly over time. Cheque volumes have been reducing by 8% per year over the last three years, and ATM cash withdrawals relative to card and FAST payments have fallen from about 50% to 30% over the same period.

6.     We will continue to enhance the e-payments infrastructure for Singaporeans from all walks to experience convenient and low-cost e-payments. 

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