To ask the Prime Minister whether the Ministry will regulate transaction fees and platform rental fees charged by cashless e-payment platform providers by mandating caps on such fees so as to accelerate the widespread adoption of e-payment by small and medium enterprises and consumers.

Answer by Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in charge of MAS:

1. Assoc Prof Goh asked if MAS will regulate transaction fees and platform rental fees charged by e-payment platform providers, so as to accelerate the adoption of e-payments.

2. Transaction fees vary across different types of payments, whether it is cash, cheques, debit cards, credit cards, NETS, stored value cards, e-wallets or PayNow. The cost of using cash or cheques is actually relatively high, and this is in fact one of the motivations for promoting e-payment.

3. We are in fact taking a multi-prong approach to promote e-payment. This includes:

Putting in place infrastructure such as FAST to ensure an open architecture,

Ensuring the interface is convenient and easy to use,

Stipulating standards when necessary, such as the impending common QR code standard for Singapore (SGQR), so that a merchant just needs one QR code to receive all types of e-payment

Promoting adoption of e-payment amongst merchants and consumers

Keeping cost of e-payment as low as possible, which is what Assoc Prof Daniel Goh has asked about.

4. To keep fees at a reasonable level it is important to ensure there is enough competition. Hence we have always insisted on an open architecture system so that e-payment will not be monopolized over time by one dominant player.

5. MAS worked with the banking industry to develop PayNow. Today, it enables convenient and safe peer-to-peer transactions, and we are now working to extend PayNow to businesses as a cheaper way to make e-payments. PayNow will use the SGQR for e-payment transactions, which means there is no need for any point of sale terminals, or any rental fees involved for these equipment.

6. NETS has recently announced plans to roll out NETS Pay, which offers a wide range of solutions for merchants to receive payments from consumers at an affordable rate. NETS Pay will add to the range of low cost e-payment solutions available in the market.

7. The government has also been engaging various stakeholders to raise awareness of the available e-payment solutions and hence help drive further adoption. Businesses need to be aware of the advantages of various e-payment solutions and identify a solution that would best suit their needs.

8. As of now, our focus is to ensure these low cost options are available, and spur competition to keep cost affordable to small businesses. It will minimally be cheaper than having to handle cash. As to whether we should regulate the fees for e-payment, we are studying the experience of other jurisdictions, and will study them carefully.

Source: Monetary Authority of Singapore