SINGAPORE: Keeping true to his word to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the CEO of consumer tech company Razer on Thursday (Sep 7) submitted a proposal to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO) on how his firm plans to roll out a unified e-payments system within 18 months.
Razer CEO Tan Min-Liang had on Aug 22 tweeted Prime Minister Lee an offer to come up with a plan. This came after Mr Lee had said in his National Day Rally that Singapore will go bigger on e-payments, in line with its Smart Nation ambitions.
Mr Tan then also said on Twitter that a number of top industry experts have come on board the project.
According to an executive summary posted on Razer's website on Thursday, the proposal is two-pronged: To provide ongoing feedback, development and advisory support for a common e-payment framework (CEF) or something similar that is managed by the MAS, and to support for an e-payment solution - whether it is an existing solution or its mooted RazerPay system.
In terms of the framework, Razer said this should be an open one for interoperability by having features such as common APIs (application programming interface).
"For avoidance of doubt, as Razer is a private-sector participant and the said CEF would require the management of multiple private-sector participants, we believe that the MAS is the right entity to oversee the establishment of such as framework, as well as set the policies and regulations that would govern such a framework," it said.
It added that it will form a Razer E-Payment Advisory Board, which will consist of "esteemed and independent experts from the banking, payment, technology and legal fields who will provide insights and recommendations to ensure alignment with the Singapore Government's objective for a cashless society".
It intends to announce the composition of the advisory board "shortly" and welcomes participation from any Singaporean with the relevant experience.
Mr Lee acknowledged the proposal in a tweet on Friday. "Thanks for submitting this proposal! We will study it thoroughly, together with MAS," he wrote.
In response to media queries, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said it received Razer's proposal on Thursday afternoon and will "study it carefully".
"The proposal is in line with our vision for interoperable and pervasive e-payments enabled by Unified Points-of-Sale and SGQR Code," a spokesperson for MAS said.
Razer also said it is incumbent on the private sector to establish and roll out an e-payment solution for Singapore that is in line with the CEF, in that it is not a closed proprietary system.
"While there are many existing e-payment solutions in varying levels of maturity in Singapore, none of them have committed to adhering to the CEF at this time (as it has not been established in a holistic fashion by the MAS at the time of writing)," the tech company said in its proposal.
To address this, it is proposing to develop and deploy RazerPay and will commit S$10 million in seed funding for this initiative and hire Singaporeans to head the start-up. It added that it will be rolled out with a view that at least 1 million e-wallets will be opened within 18 months of Oct 1, 2017 - that is by May 1, 2019.
That said, it noted that as long as there is a rival solution that is in line with the CEF and achieved mass adoption, Razer will cease its focus on RazerPay and support that solution.
"The reason for the foregoing is that our objective is a public goal, not a private endeavour - that is to advance Singapore to a cashless society within 18 months - and it is not for Razer to profit from such an objective," it said.
In a Facebook post announcing the proposal, Mr Tan said he was heartened to see many Singaporeans step up and extend their desire in helping to pioneer change.
"With regard to this, and to foster a Singaporean-first perspective, we’ve posted the core team member openings here www.razerzone.com/sg-epayments. We will also be opening up more positions once the leads are filled as this is a massive endeavour," he wrote.
"I am open to hearing any feedback from you – because this isn’t just a Government initiative, this affects all of us as Singaporeans. Let’s make it happen. For Singaporeans. By Singaporeans."
On Friday, Mr Tan gave an update on Twitter saying that it has received more than 200 applicants to join its e-payments initiative. "Now who said Singaporeans are apathetic!" he wrote.