In much of Asia, including Singapore and Hong Kong, merchants have multiple options to accept customer payments: cash, credit card, and stored value facilities in the form of e-wallets.
But while merchants in Singapore are burdened with expensive to maintain and upkeep point of sale systems, China has become the poster child of digital mobile payments largely thanks to the wide adoption of QR Codes and the bold strategy of tech companies like Alibaba and Tencent to build payment platforms.
Perhaps taking a lesson from China, Singapore’s AsiaMalls has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with UnionPay International (UPI) to roll out acceptance of UnionPay QR Code payments across all six malls – Hougang Mall, Liang Court, Tiong Bahru Plaza, Tampines 1, White Sands, and Century Square when it reopens in 2018.
As the first large-scale partnership between a mall manager and a global payment brand to deploy QR Code payments across malls in Singapore, this form of QR Code payments is compatible with SGQR and compliant with EMVCo standards.
UnionPay International is a member of the SGQR taskforce led by Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) and Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to develop a common, interoperable QR Code to accelerate the adoption of mobile payments locally. UnionPay is also part of the EMVCo Global Workgroup developing an international standard for QR Code payments.
This new partnership between AsiaMalls and UPI came from the mall management’s understanding of the shopper’s needs and the retail landscape, coupled with a mindset for innovation.
Tapping onto existing payment infrastructure from AsiaMalls’ rewards program, AMperkz, the initiative will enable UnionPay Cardholders to enjoy greater ease of payment at all participating AsiaMalls merchants when the enhanced system rolls out in phases starting 2018.
UnionPay QR Code payments allow merchant discounts and payment transactions to be processed via a single scan of the consumer-presented QR Code, providing added convenience and simplifying the payment process for both consumers and merchants alike. It will also open up opportunities for shoppers without NFC-enabled smartphones to make contactless mobile payments.
While Singaporean consumers will naturally benefit from the deployment of the QR Code-based payment solution, the other significant target of this investment strategy by AsiaMalls are Chinese mainland tourists which in 2016 spent $3.52 billion, up 39% from 2015. An estimated 2.86 million Chinese tourists passed through Singapore in 2016, up 36% from 2015.
Tan Kee Yong, managing director, AsiaMalls Management, says the introduction of the QR Code payment option will allow the stores to expand their clientele base.
For its part, Cai Jianbo, chief executive officer, UnionPay International, says the partnership will help promote UnionPay QR Code payment first in everyday spend merchants like shopping malls as this will not only help it localize its business, as well as help issuers like Bank of China Singapore branch and other local partners introduce more usage applications and promotions using the e-wallet platform in future.
First published in Retail Tech Innovation