SINGAPORE: Singapore should aim to "eliminate cheques" by 2025 as the nation works towards a more widespread use of e-payments, said Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung on Wednesday (Jun 20).
Mr Ong was speaking at the Association of Banks in Singapore's annual dinner where he stressed that while Singapore does not need to be an entirely cashless society, it should aim to "use less cash and more e-payments".
"The aim is not to force a cashless society, but to enable everyone to enjoy the convenience and efficiency of e-payments – simple, swift, safe and seamless," he said.
He added that the take-up rate for cashless payment methods like PayNow has been good and "promising" as consumers are "increasingly favouring" e-payments.
"More than eight in 10 Singapore consumers have adopted e-payments and almost three in five Singapore merchants are accepting e-payments," he said.
"The use of cash and cheques has been coming down steadily in recent years."
He added that everyone should be able to "enjoy the convenience and efficiency of e-payments" as he outlined ways to enable this.
EXTENDING PAYNOW'S USAGE TO BUSINESSES
In order to achieve this, the banking industry will extend PayNow to businesses, as well as customers.
Businesses will be able to link their Unique Entity Number (UEN) to their bank accounts so that payments can be made even without the firm's bank account number.
PayNow's usage will also be expanded to include "mass disbursements" to individuals or business-to-consumer payments using just their mobile numbers or NRIC numbers. This would include Edusave Award money and CPF payouts.
This was tested out earlier this year when the Ministry of Education piloted the disbursement of Edusave Award money to students via PayNow.
"Shortly after recipients received their certificates on the stage, they got SMSes notifying them that the award money has been credited into their bank accounts," Mr Ong explained.
Since March this year, eligible CPF members over the age of 55 could also receive their lump sum withdrawals through PayNow.
Mr Ong also addressed several concerns about e-payments, including security.
He noted that the Monetary Authority of Singapore will be introducing a new bill later this year to "strengthen the standards of consumer protection" and protect consumers against other forms of crime related to e-payments.