Taxi drivers to drive digital payments adoption at hawker centres in Singapore

Taxi drivers to drive digital payments adoption at hawker centres in Singapore

Leading Singapore payment services group, NETS and ComfortDelGro Taxi have announced a
new partnership to drive digital payments adoption at hawker centres across the
island through a new incentive programme that rewards ComfortDelGro taxi
drivers for every new hawker that they sign up.

The ‘Hawker Champion’ incentive programme supports the
e-payments thrust in Singapore’s Smart
Nation vision
. Together with NETS’ existing ‘Go Cashless
consumer campaign, it is expected to help build a cashless ecosystem at hawker

The NETS QR code was launched
in September 2017, as a standardised QR code able to accept payments from
different banking apps including DBS Paylah!, OCBC's PayAnyone and UOB's
Mighty, with plans to include other payment wallets in future. NETS also
provides hawkers with a single settlement report that consolidates all the
different payment types.

ComfortDelGro cabbies are familiar with cashless payment
options and they were amongst the first to use the NETS QR code
payment solution in their taxis.

Under the programme, ComfortDelGro cabbies will introduce
the NETS QR code payment solution to hawkers unfamiliar with the system.
Interested hawkers will be referred to NETS and cabbies will be rewarded for
every hawker that signs up for NETS services.

The cabbies and staff will receive a $10 NETS FlashPay
card (NETS FlashPay card valued at $5 and usage value of $5) when they download
the NETSPay app. 

The programme is being piloted amongst 100 cabbies who have
already undergone customised training from NETS and will be rolled out to the
rest of the fleet over the next few months. The partnership aims to see 15,000
cabby-ambassadors reach out to their favourite hawkers to encourage them to
sign up as NETS merchants.

NETS CEO, Jeffrey Goh, said, “We’re excited to be partnering
with ComfortDelGro Taxi on this new programme – after all, who knows hawkers
better than taxi drivers? Ask any taxi driver for food recommendations and
they’ll be able to point you to their favourite hawker stalls all over
Singapore. Hence, we thought they’d be the perfect ambassadors to help us reach
out to their favourite hawkers and encourage them to embrace cashless payments
since the drivers themselves are familiar with NETS QR payments.”

Mr Ang Wei Neng, CEO of ComfortDelGro Taxi added, “Our
cabbies are familiar with different kinds of cashless payments on our taxis and
they appreciate the convenience of cashless payments. To be an ambassador for
cashless payments at hawker centre is an extension of something that they are
familiar with. In the process, we are happy that our cabbies can be part of the
effort in moving Singapore towards becoming a Smart Nation.”

The press release from NETS quotes Tham Yuet Kok, 69, who is
one of the first 100 cabbies to sign on the programme, “Having gone through the
transition from cash to cashless and, now cardless payments, I have come to
appreciate the convenience that cashless payments bring. But I also fully
understand the concerns hawkers may have, and will be able to share my
experience with them.” 

Recently, EZ-Link
and NETS announced their first interoperable payments system in which
e-payments can be made by EZ-Link (a contactless smart card used for the payment
of public transportation fares in Singapore) and concession cards through all
NETS terminals at hawker centres in Singapore.

NETS is waiving all terminal and transaction fees for three
years to encourage the installation of NETS terminals by hawkers. There are
currently more than 1,000 stalls across 70 hawker centres which accept NETS QR
code and NETS card payments, including those at Beo Crescent, Tanjong Pagar, Yishun
Park and Zion Road. NETS is also accepted at food courts and canteens at
Singapore Polytechnic, Republic Polytechnic, Nanyang Polytechnic, Temasek
Polytechnic and the Nanyang Technological University.

NETS is also offering rebates to customers under the ‘Go
Cashless’ consumer campaign to drive consumer adoption of QR code payments. The
first 288 customers who make eight QR code payments a month at any
participating hawker centre from 17 November 2017 to 31 March 2018 will receive
S$28 in rebates. The top three hawker stalls who attain the highest number of
cashless transactions on a monthly basis will receive S$388, S$288 and S$188

Cashless hawker

have been launched since last year to accelerate the adoption
of e-payments in Singapore. This includes the development
of a common Singapore Quick Response Code (SG QR) by an industry taskforce
co-led by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Infocomm Media
Development Authority (IMDA). The SG QR will be adopted and deployed by payment
services providers in Singapore through 2018. For smaller merchants, the QR
code option has the benefit of not requiring payment terminals.

However, challenges remain in changing preferences and
behaviour for customers, as well as small cash-based merchants, such as hawker
centre stall owners. Last week, a Straits
Times report presented a mixed picture
regarding cashless payments at the Jurong
West hawker centre, where stalls accept eight different kinds of e-payments.
Problems such as fees on certain e-payment systems and delayed credit to the
stall owners’ accounts are hindering adoption. Many customers also appear to
prefer cash for the low value transactions at hawker centres.

The National Environment Agency (NEA), Housing &
Development Board (HDB), MAS and Smart Nation and the Digital Government Office
issued a Request for Information
 (RFI) for electronic payment
(e-payment) solutions to support micro-payments mainly at small food shops and
others in August last year.

Simultaneously, initiatives like this new partnership between
NETS and ComfortDelGro or DBS’ Smart
Nation Ambassador Programme
(launched in May 2017 aiming to recruit 1000
ambassadors to encourage small cash-based merchants to adopt QR code payment
option), could complement efforts by the government and industry towards creating
a cashless society in Singapore.  

Featured image: Tiberiu
/ CC BY 2.0