Razer keeps promise and submits unified e-payment proposal

Tech company Razer submitted its proposal for a unified e-payment system here yesterday - within the two-week deadline it promised - saying that its aim was to make Singapore a cashless society within 18 months.

Central to its proposal is a common e-payment framework overseen by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). This, it said, is to be complemented by an existing or new e-payment solution - potentially its own proposed system - that fits the framework.

Its e-payment solution - dubbed RazerPay - is envisioned as a cloud-based e-wallet which can be accessed through a variety of ways, such as a mobile app, a stored-value card or a chip.

The proposal came about after a brief Twitter exchange between Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Razer chief executive Tan Min- Liang last month, when PM Lee took up Mr Tan's offer to develop a unified e-payment system.

"Make me a proposal and I will study it seriously," PM Lee tweeted Mr Tan. Mr Tan promised to deliver the proposal within two weeks, and has done so.

Razer sent the 36-page proposal to the Prime Minister's Office, MAS and the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office yesterday, making publicly available a nine-page executive summary.

It proposes the setting up of a framework overseen by MAS, given that the authority is in the best position to deal with multiple private sector players. The framework should be open and "interoperable" to unify different payment schemes here. An e-payment solution must then be rolled out to fit this framework.

Razer said it will commit $10 million in seed funding to create the e-payment system, and is aiming for one million sign-ups in 18 months from Oct 1.

It also announced six new job positions to work on RazerPay.

But if a different unified e-payment system gains mass adoption, it said it will drop its focus on RazerPay and support that instead. Razer is best known for its line of gaming accessories and recorded revenues of US$392 million (S$528 million) last year.

Analysts said that while Razer's proposal is strategically sound, it does not flag anything unknown to industry players. Most noted that getting people to use RazerPay might not be easy for the firm. "Simultaneous and quick adoption by customers and merchants might be challenging," said Dr Jan Ondrus, associate professor of Information Systems at Essec Business School.

Singapore University of Social Sciences economist Walter Theseira said that while Razer has accomplished much in the area of consumer electronics, it has no experience in large-scale payment transactions and operations. "Therefore, while their proposal is reasonable, I am not sure that they have the expertise to push it forward," he said.

Mr Tan fully accepts the challenge ahead set out for the company. "When we set out to disrupt the gaming industry, no one believed we could pull it off either," he said. "We are not in the business of talking but doing, so let's see if Singapore is a cashless society in 18 months - whether RazerPay is successful or otherwise."