When data replaces cash

THIS WEEK'S TOPIC: As Singapore pushes ahead with becoming an e-payments society, what risks or pitfalls should we be mindful of?

THIS WEEK'S TOPIC: As Singapore pushes ahead with becoming an e-payments society, what risks or pitfalls should we be mindful of?

Imad Abou Haidar
Managing Director, APAC

IT’S about collaboration and education. From industry players to government bodies, we all have a role to play.

We need to come together to co-create, co-innovate and co-develop a nationwide e-payments infrastructure that encourages adoption, promotes interoperability to maximise efficiencies and creates added-values and services in a secure ecosystem benefiting across all walks of life; this would be the e-payments society customers have come to expect.

Ignoring the importance of partnerships and education would pose a dangerous roadblock to the continued success of Singapore’s cashless journey, and no one should be left behind.

Max Loh
EY Asean and Singapore Managing Partner
Ernst & Young Solutions LLP

E-PAYMENTS help to drive financial inclusion, particularly in the underserved segments of the market; yet it may be seen as excluding the poor and elderly who lack the awareness or technology access.

Going cashless must therefore go in-hand with driving digital inclusion and literacy. Continuous consumer and merchant education will help with managing digital risks like privacy loss and overcoming enduring preferences for cash. Innovation in layering e-payment usage with tactical benefits such as discounts, loyalty points, cashbacks or value-add services can help drive adoption.

As a country, the challenge is to keep our e-payments ecosystem agile, reliable and trusted, providing consumers with a right mix of choices, yet enabling interoperability to reduce friction, and ensuring that the backbone infrastructure across platforms is secure.

Victor Mills
Chief Executive
Singapore International Chamber of Commerce

THE launch of a single, standard QR code is a very encouraging development. Standardisation manages the risk of having too many options which result in higher merchant costs and potential greater consumer confusion. Steps to simplify structure and process are admirable and necessary because they are long overdue.

What China has achieved in the simplicity and convenience of e-payments is truly impressive and it is for the market to emulate. The other key risk we all need to manage is cyber security to maintain confidence and use of e-payment platforms. For baby boomers like me, clear, unambiguous instructions are vital to encourage us to use new payment modes.

Ray Ferguson
Youtap Ltd

BECOMING a cashless society is easier said than done. It should be noted that currently it is estimated that 70 per cent of transactions within malls and high-end retail stores are cashless, whereas at the other end of the spectrum 70 per cent of all hawker transactions are still cash-based. Crossing that divide will take time as consumer trust regarding new services is rightfully tentative.

Privacy, security and segment exclusion are all very valid concerns associated with becoming an e-payments society. As with any new financial service, people will need to take some time to survey their many options and determine what best fits their own personal needs. Singapore shouldn’t rush this process.

Yeoh Oon Jin
Executive Chairman
PwC Singapore

E-PAYMENTS have been in existence in various forms and used for quite a long time. These have largely been facilitated by traditional financial intermediaries, mostly banks.

Banks are long-established, tightly controlled and regulated to ensure a high level of protection to consumers. They command almost unquestionable trust by consumers. Today, e-Payment services are increasingly being offered by, or intermediated via, non-banks such as eWallet and ePayment services provided by fintech companies. As services by non-banks gain popularity, concerns will increase about whether they can offer the same level of consumer protection as banks, such as protecting consumers’ monies and personal information.

Services in the digital world have become borderless too, where there is little to stop consumers now from freely utilising foreign ePayment service providers. eWallet and ePayment services is an area which governments around the world must urgently collaborate, as they have for banks, to develop common effective regulations, security standards and regulatory supervision.

Luc Andreani
Managing Director
foodpanda Singapore

THE prospect of a cashless society in Singapore is enticing but must be well considered. On one hand, it brings unrivalled convenience in the form of seamless transactions and greater efficiency with streamlined payment procedures. With the ease it presents, the likelihood of consumers making purchases might increase, which could have a positive effect on the economy.

However, there is still a significant portion of consumers in Singapore who prefer cash. As the only food delivery company in Singapore accepting cash payments, 35 per cent of foodpanda’s orders are paid with cash-on-delivery. With the economy becoming increasingly digital, the industry needs to continue educating the public to boost consumer confidence around e-payments. SGQR is a great alternative as it presents the advantage of cash (payment at the doorstep) and the simplicity of e-payments (no cash handling).

Kunal Chatterjee
Country Manager, Singapore & Brunei

THE economic and consumer benefits of embracing electronic payments are well established, and the government’s laudable vision of a cashless society, as part of the Smart Nation initiative, is a key component of Singapore’s next phases of growth. Continued investment in the payment infrastructure, as well as initiatives by the government and industry players, will reinforce the system integrity, improve data protection and create a seamless, secure and reliable payment journey for every Singaporean.

As a global payments technology company, Visa is dedicated to digital inclusion for all members of society, including seniors. Through education initiatives and by increasing access to payment products and services, we will ensure that all Singaporeans will benefit from the advantages of e-payments.

Jeffry Ho
Regional Managing Director

THE launch of SGQR is an important and positive milestone towards developing an integrated payments ecosystem in Singapore.

However, we must also realise that the pace of transition between cash and cashless varies across demographics. In pushing for an e-payment society, we need to ensure that there are different options that cater to varied needs, both for businesses and consumers. That requires constant innovation that can help to spur wider acceptance usage of digital payments.

We should empower customers with choice and capabilities that not only digitise payments but make it easier for them to create new and more secure ways to pay.

Amit Gupta
CEO & Founder

NATURALLY, in the same way that credit cards are susceptible to fraudulent activities, where there’s money and personal data involved, there will be risks. If we move to a society focused on mobile payments, criminal strategies will simply evolve so we need to ensure we’re always thinking ahead.

That said, a standardised SGQR code will ultimately make payment processing more seamless for both customers and merchants, offering better data privacy and security thanks to its interoperability. The MAS has clearly demonstrated a commitment to supporting a strong and sustainable fintech ecosystem by exploring different ways to simplify regulations and create opportunities for greater financial inclusion in the long term.

Gavin Milton-White
Vice-President Asia-Pacific Enterprise

WHILE Singapore’s unified payment system aims to make e-payment easy, convenient and accessible for consumers and businesses, a consolidated payment landscape would mean that more bandwidth and data is needed for aggregation and analysis. An astounding amount of transaction data flows through our networks today, and it is more critical than ever to be able to cope with rising data demands and privacy issues on a fast and secure network.

As we enter a new era of data responsibility, businesses must take a holistic view of their network infrastructure and ensure the potential of data is unlocked for better decision-making in the digital age.

Tony Lombardo
Chief Executive Officer, Asia

THE formation of a unified payment infrastructure presents many opportunities to simplify the transaction landscape whilst adding to the diversity of efficient and convenient options to support a consumer’s purchase journey.

The biggest risk to going fully digital in a rapidly evolving retail environment is to accelerate the use of e-payments without addressing consumers’ concerns around cybersecurity and leaving the late adopters behind without answering their needs.

The key to cultivating a vibrant, consumer-friendly milieu is to ensure that consumers are empowered to make their own choices and be given the time and information to change their behaviours and ease into entrusting new payment frameworks.

Reuter Chua
ACCA Singapore

THE benefits of e-payments are compelling: convenience and the availability of data around transactions. As Singapore pushes to include the latest technologies and to accelerate mainstream acceptance of e-payments, the government should ensure that the necessary safeguards are in place and that all levels of society can get easy and safe access to e-payments.

Naturally a large proportion of society would be cautious over nascent technologies – e-payments will inevitably attract a new breed of criminals. Cyber-attacks and identity thefts may increase, preying on those who are unfamiliar with the technology, or unable to see through social manipulation techniques, and therefore unable to protect themselves.

Beyond an updated and robust regulatory framework fit to deal with crimes associated with e-payments, an effective and efficient cyber law enforcement practice will be necessary to protect the innocents, deter further crime and restore broken trust.

Finally as a caring society, we must continue to uphold high standards of inclusiveness. Sustainable awareness and education programmes must be designed to reach every facet of society such as the elderly and the disabled. At the same time, these programmes should be careful to avoid alienating those who may not have the means to afford the technology for e-payments, such as low-wage workers, both local and foreign.

Scott Bales
Managing Director
Innovation Labs Asia

THIS is a positive step forward in the national payments ecosystem, one that I personally have been enjoying quite fruitfully over the last year, as ecosystems such as FavePay and GrabPay have made their way into the point of sale of most businesses in the country.

With a standardised system this hopefully will lead to broader expansion and low barriers to entry. Most importantly this will help to drive out cash payments at a number of merchants nationally. Also encouraging is the fact that fintechs in the space will be allowed to leverage the infrastructure.

PayNow has already been a huge success in the country. But the one thing I would love to challenge Singapore on is its ambition of reducing cash and becoming cheque-free by 2025. I think the overall ambition can be achieved a lot earlier, we need some higher urgency and motivation to push to a cash free economy very quickly and see broader adoption of inclusive technologies in the payment space.

Wong Heng Chew
Country President
Fujitsu Singapore

DIGITAL is the future of business. Business leaders must define the business goals, understand the capabilities and compatibility of the various parts that make the digital core, and form the right partnerships for a successful digital transformation.

User experience will likely define the design of such services, with equal importance placed on security and convenience. There will be roadblocks ranging from infrastructure compatibility, to security and concerns over the sharing of financial data in this transition to a cashless society. To mitigate such risks, new international standards such as FIDO (Fast IDentity Online) can be adopted to provide swift and secure services when integrated with biometric authentication capabilities like facial recognition and palm vein authentication.

In essence, all parties, from regulators to tech innovators, should work together to ensure that evolving platforms are accessible to all, and keep everyone interconnected.

Joel Ko Hyun Sik
Marvelstone Group

CASHLESS payments are becoming an unavoidable trend for global markets. Across the public and private sectors, setting ambitious goals for adoption of e-payments is a positive trend that should be welcomed by consumers and merchants alike. While Singapore is regarded as a leader in terms of fintech, the adoption of such new technologies in daily life is still not as high as it could be; cash remains prevalent.

The challenge is around boosting motivation among regular consumers and small businesses to adopt fintech alternatives to cash. Concerns also remain in terms of data security, which I think will prove to be a considerable (albeit not insurmountable) hurdle in the transition to a cashless society.

Rakesh Krishnamuti
Head of Business Development
PayPal Singapore

SINGAPORE’S move towards becoming an e-payments society is an opportune time for industry players to promote greater financial inclusion for all. As e-payments gain momentum within the community, it is crucial that no one gets left behind, keeping in mind the speed of technological innovations today.

Financial institutions and e-payments providers play a critical role in staying attentive to the needs of consumers and businesses within the country and in ensuring that these needs form the focal point of all innovation processes.

With a greater uptick in digital transactions due to higher adoption, safeguarding the security and reliability of these transactions is of paramount concern too. It is therefore crucial that e-payment providers implement rigorous protection systems for consumers to proactively mitigate the risk of fraud and scams, and to keep all payments and data secure.

Vincent Goh
Vice-President, Asia-Pacific and Japan

AS we move towards an e-payment society, we will see the rise of virtual payments, mobile wallets and possibly cryptocurrencies.

When payments primarily exist only digitally, cyber compromise will of course be part of the risk profile that must be accounted for in these payment environments. While simplicity and convenience are great for individual consumers when using innovative payment methods like paywave cards or QR codes, it must not be simple for a cyber criminal to cheat or exploit these platforms. A balance must be struck between convenience and the primary need of protecting the integrity of digital payment platforms.

Krupal Raval
Managing Director and Chief Financial Officer,
APAC, Digital Realty

FOR us to be a true cashless society, the availability of service and speed to process digital payments should remain as key priorities.

As more people get onboard, the infrastructure must be able to cope with demand. Data centres in Singapore, being the backbone of such an extensive payment infrastructure, must be able to support the always-on-always-available requirement of digital payments.

Jason Bissell
General Manager, Asia-Pacific and Japan

FINANCIAL and personal data are sensitive materials that organisations manage. They need to protect these data with proper data privacy and security rules by implementing governance strategies.

Data sovereignty needs to be managed as well especially with the cloud. It is crucial for organisations to capture and map critical data elements across disparate datasets such as e-payments and then track and trace them with audit trails.

There is a need to anonymise, remediate and foster accountability across teams with proper data management. Organisations must realise the value of proper data governance and it is a fine balance of convenience and trust.

Dexter Ho
Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder

SECURITY risks are still the primary concern when it comes to electronic payments. For example QR codes can be exploited by an unscrupulous person to set up a fake QR code that can lead to consumers and organisations being compromised.

In addition, hackers can attack these platforms to obtain consumers’ data such as credit card numbers, billing addresses and other personal information which can be exploited for monetary gains. Organisations embarking on this journey have to keep these considerations in mind and adopt good cybersecurity practices.

Stephan Neumeier
Managing Director
Kaspersky Lab Asia Pacific

AS we start realising the convenience that comes with embracing cashless payments, there is also a need to have a fine balance between security and ease of use.

While there are regulations to keep things in check, cyber criminals can also find their way through many security gaps in an individual’s device. The only way to be safe is to be vigilant while paying by having payment notifications enabled and to have a trusted security solution installed in your devices. These two steps can help both consumers and organisations ward off most of the common financial theft risks.

Walter de Oude
Singapore Life Pte Ltd

THE main risk is keeping outdated technology and payment choices available too long and dragging out the change process. A more streamlined, connected, open-architecture and secure payment universe is in everyone’s best interest.

Adoption rates for new tech will happen much faster if we take the old things like cheques and even Giro away!

Matthew Lim
Founder and Group Managing Director
WE! Interactive

THE main risk is the privacy issue that has deterred many from utilising e-payments. As long as we are on the internet purchasing items, our information will always be accessible by various tech giants.

As a user of mobile payments, I am more concerned with the failure of technology. There’s a Chinese saying that goes, “The water that bears the boat is the same that swallows it.” Just like how technology supports e-payment platforms, it can also be its downfall. There have been occasions when technology failed or the system was down. It made me decide to always carry my wallet and that defeats the whole purpose of going cashless.

Siva Ramadas
Managing Director, Asean

FROM financial institutions to fintechs, Singapore’s e-payments ecosystem has many different players. With every payment, these players receive data on their customers – the volume of which will rise exponentially as adoption increases.

As the number of companies handling this data grows, we need to be aware of the consequences of not managing the data responsibly. The success of the e-payments system is contingent on consumer confidence, but it takes only one scandal or data breach to set this confidence back months or even years.

This means all parties must have a strong data governance strategy in place, and these standards must be closely watched by the government. Data governance must be a top-level issue, especially for new smaller players who are likely to prioritise goals like platform development and growing a customer base. Without this, mass adoption of e-payments would be in jeopardy.

Teong Eng Guan
Vice President, Asean
Palo Alto Networks

HOLDING volumes of sensitive data poses big risk for e-payment providers, as they are obvious targets for cybercriminals. However, preventive steps can be taken to better protect both businesses and individuals.

Firstly, it is critical to ensure security is built into every aspect of the design for e-payment technologies and services. Secondly, ongoing education and awareness of cyber hygiene practices is vital at individuals level. As Singapore continues in its path towards a cashless society, cybersecurity can no longer be an afterthought and we all need to do our part to protect our digital way of life.

Helen Ng
Chief Executive Officer
General Storage Company Pte Ltd

THERE have been a few hiccups in Singapore’s push towards a cashless payment system. The recent service outages come to mind. No system is foolproof, but we need to ensure high availability. End user security should also not be compromised amid our pursuit of cashlessness.

Martin Mackay
President and General Manager for
Asia Pacific & Japan
CA Technologies

AS cyberthreats increase in sophistication and attack surface expands, security risks are undoubtedly one of the greatest potential pitfalls for the nation’s e-payment ambitions.

Frost & Sullivan and CA conducted a Digital Trust survey which found that more than half of the consumers stopped using an organisation’s services after a data breach. If e-payment service providers do not have a robust security infrastructure in place, cybersecurity incidents can undermine consumers’ trust towards their services, leading to low uptake.

Also, today’s consumers have little tolerance for poor user experience during payment, which can lead to transaction abandonment.

E-payment service providers need to strike a balance between safeguarding consumers’ data and delivering a frictionless, hassle-free experience for end-users. This would help build trust and the confidence needed to make e-payments the dominant form of transactions.

Matthew Johnston
Area Vice President, Asean & Korea

WE must be mindful of data governance as Singapore pushes toward an e-payments society. While our transformation towards a cashless society has merits, the security and privacy of financial data has to be top of mind.

Society used to store cash physically under lock and key with vaults and managed it responsibly. Now that e-payments data have come to represent our money, we must not forget to remanage responsibly this data as we store it, and also ensure we consider privacy as we protect and use it. This will be crucial to moving towards a cashless society.

Maren Schweizer
Schweizer World Pte Ltd

E-PAYMENT and digital wallets harness the power of technology to increase speed and convenience, automate tasks and integrate data. However, there’s a corresponding proliferation of hackers and cyber attackers, who are always one step ahead.

Ransomware and cyber extortion are some of the fastest-growing cybercrimes. Globally, ransomware damages are expected to exceed over US$5 billion in 2018 – up from just US$325 million in 2015 – according to research from Cybersecurity Ventures. That’s an annual increase of 350 per cent.

Cyber-attacks call for a new level of potency in security measures. This requires a comprehensive security posture. No risk management system or strategy is foolproof. Therefore, cybersecurity insurance can be beneficial to enterprises to complete a strong cybersecurity risk management programme.

Mark Forsyth
Chief Executive Officer

WE support initiatives to close the e-payment gap between e-retailers, brands and consumers but the issue comes down to execution and adoption.

From our experience with consumers in taxis and ride-sharing cars, passengers require a simple, one-step activation to shop and pay on-the-go. Solutions like PayNow Corporate seem to lack traction, possibly hampered by the lack of a seamless user experience. Conversely, adoption will occur if the platform is designed for the consumer and not from a compliance and security perspective. Security is important, but consumers are willing to accept a trade-off of convenience versus high control security.

Nigel Ng Khee Seng
Vice President, Asia Pacific & Japan

POWERFUL forces are driving Singapore’s move towards a cashless society – from government-led initiatives to changing end-users’ digital habits. Yet globally, more than 70 per cent of organisations take days or more to identify the source of fraudulent activities on their sites.

Mobile, social and the Internet of Things are all moving to the forefront of digital transactions. Digital fraud can only grow in frequency and impact across customer engagement touchpoints as malicious actors exploit these digital channels.

However, asking end-users to jump through additional authentication hoops defeats the benefit of e-payment convenience.

Therefore, to stymie fraudsters and control digital risks requires three essential capabilities. Detect fraud risk with behaviour-based tools at every digital interaction; authenticate only genuine users with risk-based technology; and predict fraud trends before inception with threat intelligence. Only then can organisations deliver the secure and frictionless payment experience today’s end-users expect.

Albert Phuay Yong Hen
Chairman and Group CEO
Excelpoint Technology Ltd

IT is heartening that Singapore is proactively making advancements to be an e-payments nation. While the proliferation of e-payment services has many advantages such as convenience and efficiency, there are also issues that should be contemplated.

There may be loss of anonymity for people. Unlike cash, digital payments are recorded and easily traceable in some ways by authorities and organisations that can analyse and use the data for marketing and monitoring purposes. Such data could also be stolen by hackers and used in potential fraud and cybercrimes.

The convenience and efficiency of e-payments may make it easier for people to spend and gain instant gratification without considering the consequences of their purchases. People may lose track of the value of money and their expenses, resulting in overspending, which could lead to financial strains in future.

The elderly, low-income or those not technologically-inclined may not be able to catch up with this digital trend of reduced reliance on cash.

Ultimately, we need to focus on building a robust e-payment infrastructure and embracing this digital transformation. If we manage the related concerns, everyone can progress together in an e-payment society.

Svend Janssen
Head of Asia
Western Union Business Solutions

SINGAPORE’S commitment to transitioning into a cashless society is laudable. The introduction of a unified payment system certainly brings forth greater efficiency and significant cost reductions for businesses and consumers.

However, what would really move the needle for corporates and SMEs alike is to fully realise the potential of cost reduction through the process optimisation of cross-border settlements that are typically bank-to-bank transactions.

The challenge for most international business operators lies in the risk and cash management behind end-to-end cross-border payments in accordance to their forex exposure, as well as navigating complex and diverse regulation frameworks across different jurisdictions.

David Shephard
Vice-President for Asia Pacific and Japan

IN an e-payment society, paper currencies are essentially converted into a digital format. In other words, data replaces cash. In this form, money can cross cities, borders, and even continents in an instant. It can also move to many different kinds of endpoints instantaneously; these include desktops, phones, tablets, and smart devices. While going cashless might seem more convenient, the strategy can be quite vulnerable to hacking if advanced security measures are not put in place. Indeed, the last few years have seen a number of cyberattacks on electronic banking systems – many of which belonged to prolific companies.

For an e-payment society to succeed, private companies and public organisations must collaborate and ensure cybersecurity for financial information like digital currencies. Failing to do so will jeopardise the wellbeing of innocent citizens.

Karl Hamann
Chief Executive Officer
QBE Insurance (Singapore) Pte Ltd

SINGAPORE continues to push towards a unified digital payment ecosystem and, ultimately, a truly cashless society. The productivity and convenience gains will significantly benefit both consumers and merchants.

However, any move towards digital payments brings with it underlying security concerns, as financially motivated cyberattacks grow both in number and sophistication. For users to continue giving up privacy in the interest of quicker and simpler transactions, it is critical that we can ensure the ongoing integrity of the system.

This will also go a long way to helping all segments of society feel comfortable with cashless transactions moving forward. The education process is certainly still in its early stages.

Song Tang Yih
Vice-President, APAC Sales
A10 Networks

E-PAYMENT is part of the natural progression as we become a more intelligently connected society. Our increasing dependence on conveniences, such as e-payments, also signifies the growing reliance on smart devices, such as mobile phones. With the commercialisation of 5G in the next few years, we can expect a proliferation of even more services and applications that promise to “digitalise” essential daily routines from the palm of our hands. It will not be long before digital services are considered a basic human need, putting it on par with our need for clean air, water and food.

However, the spectre of cyber breaches threatens to deprive us of this basic need. Cyber attacks today have the potential to disrupt everyday services and prevent people from getting on with their lives.

This calls for a concerted effort to better secure smartphones and all digital services because as their importance grows, so will the potential for being exploited for malicious purposes. It is also time that society shifts its perception and see cyber security as a fundamental human right. And by that token, security needs to be by-design and by-default, not as an afterthought.

Seah Kian Peng
NTUC FairPrice

E-PAYMENT serves as a convenient option for customers and also helps retailers optimise manpower and resources. However, considerations must be made to accommodate the needs of all segments of society, including those who are unable to or are uncomfortable in adopting e-payment methods.

For example, at FairPrice stores, our self-checkout systems have been specially integrated to accept both cashless and cash payment to empower customers with alternative transaction modes. For the community to successfully adopt e-payment services, a holistic approach is required. This includes having a robust and secure infrastructure to promote trust in usage as well as providing public education with hands-on demonstrations complemented by service staff being available to actively address any concerns.

We also have to be mindful that customers should be given alternative solutions to accommodate their payment preference.

Mark Billington
Regional Director, South-East Asia

THE last five years have seen major shifts in how consumers pay for goods and services. In line with the general trend to digitise business, ICAEW expects the trend towards digital payment methods to continue to grow over the next 10 years.

While the benefits of e-payments have been tested and proven, a few considerations such as privacy, costs, regulation, social inclusion and, most importantly, security need to be addressed. Robust measures are essential to ensure high levels of security and fraud prevention. There will be higher ongoing transaction costs associated with running and maintaining secure e-payment systems that could be passed on to consumers and the government will need to ensure that the current regulatory framework can fully address the issue of fraud liability.

In addition, with new forms of e-payments, finance functions will need to fully understand and be able to integrate these new e-payment. In our opinion, any move to digital should be at the pace and choice of those businesses and individuals affected and not mandated. When a business case for change is proven, businesses will follow of their own accord.

Dileep Nair
Independent Director
Thakral Corporation Limited

THE productivity benefits that accrue to cashless transactions are essential for Singapore’s competitiveness. However, we should be mindful of the downsides.

The loss of privacy and anonymity are obvious. More insidious is identity theft and fraud. To gain the public’s trust, e-payment systems need to be secure and resistant to hacking.

Another issue often ignored is the impact on our savings culture. “Saving for a rainy day” has been instrumental for our success. Without the feel of physical money, spending is much easier and consumerism can take hold. E-tools and apps need to be developed for budgeting, tracking spending and even posing questions before certain discretionary expenditures are made. This will allow us to safely exploit the brave new world we are entering.

Anshu Nahar
AT Kearney

THE benefits of a cashless society are plenty – safety of financial assets are enhanced as physical theft is reduced, payments become more efficient and the consumer’s payment experience is more flawless.

However, the proliferation of different payment standards has often been a challenge in the early ePayments efforts as well. For example, the seamless integration of the earliest credit cards or the multiple competing QR codes in today’s world takes time before they can be universally adopted.

Singapore’s move towards a unified QR code is a positive step to improve user friendliness, remove payment friction and drive improved payment adoption efficiently. However, an adoption and reliance on electronic payments also amplifies the impact of hacking, privacy, data theft, and technology breakdown. For ePayments to be successful, the providers not only need to offer better propositions, but also ensure the ePayments systems are secure and safe – safeguarding consumers’ data and private information.

Anthony Chiam
Regional Head of Financial Services
JD Power

THROUGH our recent study, we found security to be a key concern amongst customers when it comes to digital payments. The lack of interoperability across platforms has complicated the process of going cashless, defeating the original purpose of enhancing the user experience.

To advance a truly cashless society we need to foster an environment of trust and confidence. Technology is ultimately a means to an end and it should eliminate rather than add more friction. To keep customers at the centre of this digital evolution, we need to assume the mantle of responsibility in continuing to protect and educate consumers. Most importantly, customers should be given the option of which payment method best suits their needs. This is not about swapping one payment method for another, it’s about providing greater choice.

Sheena Chin
Country Director
Veritas Storage (Singapore)

AS Singapore pushes ahead for a cashless society, data security is a perennial concern. Consumers need to ask themselves if they want to trust merchants or third-party service providers with their sensitive payment details, as the data might fall into the wrong hands.

Going cashless means less privacy, with anonymity being removed for consumers, as they will leave behind a digital trail for their e-payments. Service availability is another key issue, especially in sectors where any downtime is frowned upon.

There are also instances where consumers encountered errors in online payment and were saddled with the hassle of cancelling or repeating the transaction. More importantly, going cashless without sufficient digital enablement will alienate some segments of the society, such as the elderly or the poor.

Deborah Heng
Country Manager
Mastercard Singapore

SINGAPORE has come a long way since the government launched a national campaign to reduce the use of cash to boost efficiency and productivity 30 years ago. Fast forward three decades, electronic payments have improved vastly with the advent of new technology and innovations.

Today’s digitally savvy population is also more open to integrate cashless payments into everyday life, for transit, dining, retail and entertainment. However, there is a need to continue demonstrating to consumers and businesses why e-payments provide greater convenience, transparency and trackability of transactions digitally. This will be achieved through strong partnerships between the public and private sectors to continue driving development for a seamless and secure payments ecosystem.

Mary McHale
Business Development Director, Financial Services, Asia-Pacific

RAPID growth in digital payments bring with it increased data traffic that demands a connected network that is secure, agile and reliable, where an efficient transfer and processing of data ensures that neither latency nor data privacy/security compromises consumers’ demand for a seamless, instant e-payments experience.

Retailers, banks and digital commerce companies need to ensure that they can manage the increased volume of digital payments as well as harness the new sources of information that are coming from artificial intelligence and data analytics to ensure that they continue to optimise the buyers’ experience.

At Equinix, we believe that the power of interconnection and bringing payments to the digital edge is paramount to the role that businesses must play in supporting Singapore’s quest to becoming a true e-payments society.

Anndy Lian

SINGAPORE is behind time in terms of epayment. We need to catch up. The possible risks are security and privacy issues.

Singaporeans need to be made aware of such issues. The government has to run a proper campaign to inform the general public, with step-by-step instructions as part of the training process. We need to set up a trust payment system for everyone to use.

Magnus Grimeland
Founder and CEO

THIS is terrific for Singapore and fintech companies operating here, lowering costs and increasing the customer experience significantly. In moving towards e-payments we need to ensure that the less technologically advanced still has options to effectively transact, and learnings from across the globe have shown that this is highly doable.

Chong Ik Wei
Managing Director, Asia
Clyde & Co

THE more personal data collected by vendors as a result of the push towards e-payment and a cashless society, the more those vendors are at risk to a cyber-attack.

In recent years, cybersecurity has been brought into sharp focus with numerous ‘blockbuster’ cybersecurity incidents, including the SingHealth data breach. It was timely that the Cybersecurity Act came into force on Aug 31, 2018 and creates a regulatory framework for the monitoring and reporting of cybersecurity threats to essential services in Singapore.

It also creates a licensing regime that will require certain data security service providers to be registered. There will be potential liabilities and exposure for companies that fail to understand and implement the new laws and regulations.

Ho Yat-Wai
Country Manager Singapore
American Express

AS Singapore takes strides to become an e-payments society, managing fraud and cybercrime have to remain as top priorities in order to uphold trust and credibility.

With e-payments, confidential information is shared across interconnected platforms; any failure in the system will become more magnified and scaled up.

American Express has been evolving our fraud prevention solutions and charge-back transaction resolution processes to stay ahead of the changes in the e-payment space. To do that, we support our card members with their charge-back resolutions, especially on overseas transactions and online spend, and we deploy technology from our fintech subsidiaries Accertify and InAuth, which specialise in fraud prevention and transaction authentication.

Customers, businesses and our partners need peace of mind when doing business with American Express that their payments are in reliable hands.

Jessie Xia
Managing Director – Singapore

2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created everyday across global digital transaction networks. Data privacy has become a major concern for consumers as their personal data is shared whenever digital payments are made.

The digitalisation of the global economy has inadvertently led to more cyberattacks, putting millions of people worldwide at risk of data thefts and privacy violations. As Singapore moves towards a cashless society, the financial sector will need to boost the security of its networks and tech infrastructure to ensure that its always ready to combat and prevent cybercrimes.

Joanne Wong
Senior Regional Director for Asia Pacific & Japan

ONE potential pitfall is thinking that cybersecurity is merely a technology problem. While AI and machine learning will help in securing our digital wallets, we also need to invest in talent so that we can reap the benefits of both a larger talent pool and advanced cybersecurity solutions.

We must also keep in mind that the approach to talent and cybersecurity for e-payment must be aligned with other industries as it is part of Singapore’s development to be a smart nation. With so many devices at risk in an e-payments system, it is also important that everyone plays a role in detecting, responding and reporting to threats in a timely manner so that no damage is done.

Henry Tan
Group CEO
Nexia TS Group

WE are overdue in implementing cashless payment. A couple of years ago, I was embarrassed when I hosted clients from China in Singapore and they asked why there were no cashless payment using the mobile phone.

I believe the biggest challenge for us is still in implementation and education of the user and vendor. I once tried to use the QR code for Nets payment at a hawker stall and was told off by the hawker because he was not ready for it and felt it was a hassle.

However, I am quite hopeful that we will slowly get there; in fact recently I was at a cafe in Singapore which accepts only crypto currencies! That’s taking cashless payment to another level. With a more widespread e-payment system, the security of e-wallets should be enhanced though users still need to be educated about the risks, for instance if the wallet is linked to our bank account for direct debit. Our corporate cybersecurity service line has seen increased demand – which speaks well of security consciousness of Singaporeans.

Andrew Tan
Managing Director
JOS Singapore

AS we move into the next step of Singapore’s Smart Nation vision with e-Payment adoption, educating citizens to constantly stay vigilant against security threats is critical. While stringent security solutions can be implemented, it is essential to have security governance policies and procedures in place in case of a security breach.

A slight delay in escalation when a potential breach occurs can cost more damage than we imagine.

Lim Soon Hock
Managing Director

IT is inevitable that the world will transition to a cashless one, faster than we can expect, fuelled by blockchain, fintech and cryptocurrencies. Introducing SGQR code to unify 27 payment schemes that include the enhanced FAST and Paynow is a step in the right direction, while the government still has time to integrate this into our Smart Nation initiative.

Although versatile and easy to use, SGQR is dependent on a mobile device or a smartphone. A large demographic segment in society, especially the elderly and poor, is not familiar with QR codes, and will need to be educated for SQRC to be inclusive and prevalent.

Issues relating to security such as being linked to an unsafe website that has malware or malicious content, and data protection for personal and confidential information – including passwords, files and past transactions – will have to be addressed to encourage a faster and wider adoption of SQRC.

The benefits outweigh the risks and pitfalls, which are manageable. QR codes can be used for anything and everything, so long as the risks are recognised and steps taken to prevent them.

Lynette Seah
Founder & CEO

INNOVATION has always come with risks. In Singapore’s push to continually stay ahead of the fintech race, we may initially risk alienating certain segments of society but that’s not to say that we shouldn’t strive to move ahead.

What makes us a compassionate society is to ensure that we do not permanently leave the poor and elderly behind but put measures and safety nets in place to bring them forward with technology.

Annie Yap
AYP HR Group

BECOMING an e-payment society would mean trusting a third party to hold sensitive data with regards to money and personal data.

Recent hacks like the SingHealth data breach means that we have to be careful to ensure the prevention of future hacks. Another problem faced is that cash transactions are free of charges while merchants who convert to card payments need to pay transaction charges to the bank and get a card swiping/tapping device, thus incurring operating costs.

Lastly, we will have to carefully study and understand how the elderly and mentally-ill are going to use e-payments as most of them are accustomed to cash transactions.

David Leong
Managing Director
PeopleWorldwide Consulting Pte Ltd

CASH is not the absolute evil that it is made out to be by some quarters. It’s physical and can be touched and counted. With e-payment, spending is “out-of-hand” for transactions.

The psychology of paying with cash and paying via e-payment or even credit cards is different. Paying digitally disconnects the pleasure of buying from the pain of paying. With pain of paying with physical cash, there is a self- regulating psychological element which makes for more financially sensible consumer behaviour.

Hence, the greatest pitfall or risk is that the psychology of paying may change and this may lead to financial imprudence.

While the government is looking to create an electronic money trail with e-payment to stem money laundering and tax evasion; expand financial inclusion to the “unbanked” population; reduce usage of taxpayers’ money on printing and storage of currency; and improve ease of doing business while raising productivity; consumers must know that their buying patterns – what they like, when they buy, and their spending patterns – are all captured in Big Data. They’re technically under surveillance. The biggest pitfall of this is the loss of privacy as the e-payment flows can tell a lot about a person.

Dora Hoan
Group CEO
Best World International Ltd

E-PAYMENTS is far more convenient than cash and cheques, and companies and governments can get rid of low-value manual work to increase efficiency. In Singapore, both businesses and retail customers can enjoy the convenience of a simple way to transfer funds. It also helps to greatly reduce the risk of cash loss and theft.

At the same time, e-payments pose some risks. For example, the incidences of online fraud and identity theft will increase. In the absence of appropriate security measures, private information may be exposed to hackers, resulting in customer identity disclosure or money loss. Government needs to adopt a variety of cybersecurity measures to prevent these problems. Consumers must be able to identify potential pitfalls like phishing in online payment.