SINGAPORE: Tech firm Razer will be giving out free surgical masks to all Singapore residents aged 16 and above, through a network of vending machines across the island, the company said on Monday (May 11).
Twenty vending machines will be set up across Singapore, including at all malls under Frasers Property Retail and JustCo co-working spaces, by Jun 1.
READ: Razer's face mask manufacturing line begins production, able to produce 5 million masks a month
The firm estimates that about 5 million masks will be dispensed, and hopes the initiative will complement recently-announced plans by the Government to provide more reusable masks for households.
“There are times potentially where you leave your house and you realise, ‘Oh no, I don't have the mask’. We think that this is something that we can do ... to ensure that society stays safe,” said Mr Lee Li Meng, chief strategy officer of Razer.
To redeem the masks, users must register for the mobile wallet app, Razer Pay, to verify their identity.
When beta testing begins in the coming days, the app will issue a QR coupon code — which will be valid for three months — to be scanned at vending machines for mask collection.
All machines will also be progressively installed by Jun 1, before "circuit breaker" measures are expected to be lifted.
Razer said that the exercise would be rolled out in phases to ensure that safe distancing measures can be adhered to. For example, users will get their codes progressively.
Mr Lee said it would be a "very quick process" because the masks are dispensed via vending machines.
“But obviously, we will encourage people, 'If you see a long line, please don't hang around. Come back and get the mask when the line is shorter'."
The tech firm said the surgical masks are to be used in conjunction with reusable masks.
"Razer’s mask vending machines would ensure that the public always has access to masks when out and about," the company said.
"For example, if anyone has forgotten or misplaced their reusable masks, they will be able to purchase a single use Razer surgical mask anytime from the conveniently located network of vending machines."
Mr Lee added that although Razer plans to add more locations to its offerings, it is still trying to find enough vending machines amid current supply chain disruptions.
DOUBLING PRODUCTION CAPACITY TO 10 MILLION MASKS A MONTH
Razer is working with local manufacturer Sunningdale Tech to develop a fully automated mask production line in Singapore.
"At full capacity, the production line can produce up to 5 million masks a month and together with Sunningdale, Razer expects to expand production to up to 10 million masks a month soon," Razer said.
Mr Lee said he believes there is enough demand for masks, as Razer has received interest from firms “not just in Singapore, but in the region and in fact, globally”.
He said that manufacturing masks for Singapore’s needs would be the first priority - and only excess supply would be allocated beyond its borders.
When asked if mask manufacturing and dispensing would become a core part of the firm’s business, Mr Lee said it is “still early days”.
“I think we are focusing on making sure that the first reason why we're doing this is to make sure that we are able to supply the masks,” he said.
“We will see and observe the situation."