CAPITALAND, Singapore's largest mall operator, is the latest to join the cashless drive.
The blue-chip is partnering leading e-payment players to launch an all-in-one e-payment service - dubbed StarPay - that is currently planned to cover over 2,500 stores in 17 malls across Singapore.
The partnerships announced on Thursday will integrate five e-payment modes into StarPay: GrabPay, NETSPay, DBS PayLah!, American Express and Alipay.
This marks the first time a mall operator is offering an all-in-one e-payment service in Singapore, said CapitaLand. It will enable shoppers to pay using different e-payment modes, including debit and credit cards, QR codes and local and international payment apps.
Ooi Huey Tyng, managing director of GrabPay Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, said: "By integrating GrabPay and StarPay, we can reach more consumers and merchants, while enabling Grab users to pay conveniently via GrabPay at more locations."
StarPay will be rolled out across participating malls, starting with Raffles City Singapore and American Express on April 18. Other e-payment modes and malls will be progressively added from May.
It will be offered as an in-app feature on CapitaStar, the company's app-based rewards programme. Once shoppers register relevant details on the CapitaStar app, they can scan a QR code at a participating retailer's smart terminal, select the e-payment mode and the transaction will be processed.
Through StarPay, shoppers will also be able to earn STAR$ - reward points that can be exchanged for CapitaLand vouchers and deals - from their purchases automatically without having to scan their receipts, as long as they spend a minimum of S$1.
Smart terminals will be provided to participating retailers at no cost by the end of the year.
BT understands that CapitaLand does not take a cut for StarPay. But tenants will still have to pay a fee to the individual e-payment players, depending on the tenants' agreements with them.
Experts pointed out that the key benefit for CapitaLand from this all-in-one service is data generation, rather than a direct boost to revenue.
CBRE head of research for Singapore and South-east Asia Desmond Sim said: "I am sure the data generated will be used to improve the tenant mix of each mall - basically monitor what sector or type of shops does best in which malls."
CapitaLand said that the data from the all-in-one service can also provide insights and knowledge for its tenants.
Lim Ming Yan, president and group chief executive officer of CapitaLand said: "Data is the new fuel for the digital era...For CapitaLand retailers, we strive to translate insights into business outcomes - whether that be increased productivity, improved sales or better customer service."
Knight Frank Singapore's executive director and head of retail Wendy Low said that retailers can analyse the data to get a better understanding of consumer preferences. Data analytics can also aid in advertising and promotion campaigns to "push more relevant and targeted messages to consumers."
Adjunct associate professor of marketing & international business at Nanyang Business School, Nanyang Technological University Lynda Wee believes an all-in-one e-payment system will not necessarily be adopted by all mall operators in the short term but could catch on in the longer term.
She said: "The one with the resources and the expertise will lead the bandwagon, others will watch and see - but once it hits a tipping point, they will jump on. And I think CapitaLand is well poised to do this, because they have the critical mass."
More e-payment modes can be expected to come onboard to StarPay by the end of the year, said CapitaLand.
CapitaLand shares closed at S$3.58 on Thursday, up by 1.4 per cent or five Singapore cents.