Singtel, Razer ink deal to unite regional payment networks

SINGTEL and video gaming company Razer have announced plans to link their digital payment systems in the region, under a strategic partnership inked on Wednesday.

Company executives told the press that they were not ready to share when the joint system will be ready for implementation, but the shared platform would give each firm access to the other’s customers and merchants.

The Singtel Group’s more than 50 million users - whether on its own Dash platform or its regional associates’ mobile wallets - could then pay merchants that take Razer’s zGold credits, and vice versa.

Each partner now has about one million merchant points.

Meanwhile, on top of the zGold users - who numbered some four million as at January - Razer is also gunning to add more from its US$61 million buyout of payments firm MOL Global, although it declined to share how many wallets it is bringing on board.

Arthur Lang, chief executive of Singtel’s international group, turned to his favoured metaphor of “hunting as a pack” and said that the telco relies on picking strategic partnerships because “capital is limited".

“Think of it as the Star Alliance of wallets,” he said, in a reference to the global airline network.

“We're starting in Asean because of the complementarity we’re seeing, but there's nothing stopping us from going further,” Mr Lang added.

The MOL deal is on track to be completed by May 10, according to Razer CEO Tan Min-Liang, who said that the acquisition has given the company “instantly, overnight, a massive footprint” in the region.

The focus on South-east Asia is a homecoming of sorts for Singapore-based Razer, which is listed in Hong Kong and also has headquarters in San Francisco.

Mr Tan made news in 2017 when he proposed to solve Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s woes over the tangle of multiple digital payments in Singapore. He added on Wednesday that Razer will still be coming out with its own payments platform “some time in 2018”.

But he also noted that “as there was talk of taking Singapore cashless… at the end of the day, we think about scale" in paying attention to regional market.

Wednesday’s plan to “create a seamlessly integrate regional network” for electronic payments, as the companies put it in a press statement, is subject to regulatory approvals.

Asked by reporters what this might look like, Mr Tan called Asean a “fragmented" region and told a briefing that Razer give updates “as we work with the regulatory bodies on the ground" in each market.

The memorandum of understanding also covered gaming-related online and offline opportunities, with Singtel and Razer agreeing to explore developing digital media products and services such as electronic sports content, as well as consider putting on regional gaming events together.