NETS will launch a digital wallet in the form of a mobile app called NetsPay next month, through which consumers can create and store digital versions of their ATM bank cards for cashless payments on one single mobile platform.
They will be able to pay for purchases at participating merchants through the app's direct-debit function linked to their bank accounts, instead of with their physical ATM cards.
Consumers can do this by using their mobile phone or smartwatch (where the NetsPay app is installed) to scan a QR (Quick Response) code sticker on the item to be purchased, or by tapping the device on Nets terminals.
The app will be launched with only one bank - its name undisclosed for now - on board, but DBS Bank, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC), United Overseas Bank (UOB) told The Business Times that they are looking to offer NetsPay services by year's end.
The digitalisation of ATM bank cards is possible through smartphones with Near-Field Communication (NFC) capabilities. Because Apple's iPhones are not equipped with NFC, Nets is also rolling out the support infrastructure for QR codes as well to widen the net of QR-compatible access points.
The NetsPay service differs from the existing Nets FlashPay contactless mode of payment in that NetsPay has a direct-debit function linked to the user's bank account; Nets FlashPay is a stored-value card, said Nets chief information officer Vincent Low.
Existing e-payment services such as DBS's PayLah!, OCBC's PayAnyone, and UOB's Mighty are also compatible with existing Nets QR codes.
Nets deputy head of business services Alvin Seck said that Nets has about 100,000 acceptance points island-wide, but only 30,000 of them are compatible with digital and cashless-payment methods like QR codes.
He said Nets is working to double the number to 60,000 by the end of the year, and would be making all 100,000 acceptance points compatible with cashless-payment options by the end of next year.
Addressing security concerns, he said the NetsPay payment methods use end-to-end encryption, which ensures the security of transaction data.
Nets chief executive Jeffrey Goh said the company is looking into promoting the use of its e-payment service by working with more vendors; these include supermarkets like Cold Storage and Sheng Siong, and delivery companies Deliveroo, Food Panda and Honestbee.
When asked about other competing digital wallet providers such as Grab, Mr Goh said the technology that Nets is providing would benefit all parties, and drive the growth of a cashless society.
He added that Nets' QR code is an "open loop" system which will allow other cashless-payment providers on board.
"It will be possible for consumers to use a DBS, OCBC or UOB card with our system; we are working with other companies to let them tap into our QR code system as well."
For example, its QR code is now accepted in most Singapore taxis and will eventually be accepted in vending machines, restaurants and carpark gantries.
Mr Goh said plans are afoot to take the service abroad. This would open the way for Singaporeans to make cashless transactions overseas. He did not specify a timeframe for this.
He added that to this end, Nets is working with EMVCo - a global payments consortium that includes MasterCard, Visa Inc and state-backed China UnionPay Co - to ensure that the mobile wallet can be used overseas.
While the Singapore common QR code is distinct from the Nets QR code, the Nets one was developed with interoperability in mind and will support the specifications of the Singapore common QR code when developed, said Mr Goh.