Singapore to develop common QR code for payments

Singapore is planning to develop a common QR code that will facilitate payments among different schemes, e-wallets and banks.

The country’s new Payments Council has set up an industry task force made up of banks, payment schemes, QR service providers and government agencies to put together standardised specifications for the code by the end of the year.

The council argues that QR codes offer a cheaper and less infrastructure-heavy alternative to debit and credit card schemes, making them more feasible for smaller cash-based merchants.

But to avoid the fragmentation caused by several proprietary QR codes, a common scheme is needed. In April local banks DBS and OCBC revealed plans to introduce QR code-based payments at offline stores in a joint project with national payments processor Nets.

The new taskforce will set out specifications to accept both domestic and international payment schemes as well as outline a governance structure and implementation strategy.

Yeo Hiang Meng, member, Payments Council and president of the Federation of Merchants’ Association, Singapore, says: “Singaporeans are interested in the mobile payment experience. FMAS will work with the MAS, Association of Banks in Singapore and financial institutions to expedite the adoption of the common QR code for mobile payments.”

Meanwhile, at its inaugural meeting, the Payments Council also called for improvements to the PayNow P2P money transfer service. Backed by seven banks, PayNow already has more than 500,000 registrations but the Council says there is scope to improve its user interface, including through SMS notifications.