Singapore unveils a Quick Response to going cashless, but habits may be hard to break

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SINGAPORE (Sept 24): When 36-year-old Mark Ng first moved to Shanghai in 2014 as a senior editor for an advertising firm, he was awestruck by the ease and prevalence of WeChat and Alipay, China’s two popular mobile-based payment systems. “When you go to the market to buy groceries, you can pay the vendors by scanning their QR codes,” he says.

Even the subsequent launch of PayLah!, PayNow and Mighty, three Singapore mobile payment schemes created by the local banks, did not change Ng’s perception. After all, mobile payments in Singapore are not yet as prevalent as in China, where street vendors display QR codes from their food carts and beggars wear QR codes around their necks.

Still, Singapore is on a mission to reduce the use of paper currency notes, eliminate cheques and encourage the use of mobile payments — but on its own terms. “We made a conscious decision to undertake a slower but more deliberate process,” says Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung at the launch of the Singapore Quick Response Code (SGQR) on Sept 17. “We designed an ecosystem that is both competitive and interoperable, planned it around the existing financial system and built up the necessary... (Click here to read the full story)