Raising the bar in a market well versed in the use of
contactless payments, Network for Electronic Transfers Singapore
(NETS) has launched NETS FlashPay, a contactless stored-value card
for use on Singapore’s rail and bus services, for public parking
and for retail purchases.
The public transport application is
particularly significant as it marks Singapore’s dominant retail
payments player’s first move into the city-state’s public transport
market, which has until now been monopolised by EZ-Link.
A unit of Singapore’s public transport
regulator the Land Transport Authority (LTA), EZ-Link launched the
ez-link contactless payments card in April 2002.
According to EZ-Link it has issued over 10
million ez-link contactless payments cards and processes some 8
million transit transactions daily.
NETS’s entry into the transit market has been
made possible by a move by the LTA to allow all card issuers
complying with Singapore’s new Standard for Contactless ePurse
Applications, or CEPAS, to offer transit payment card services.
NETS is eyeing a share of a transport market worth S$1.3 billion
($930 million) annually.
The change in LTA’s policy also levels the
playing field for NETS in the retail contactless payments market
where it has faced growing competition from EZ-Link which entered
the retail space with its ez-link card in early-2004. NETS
pioneered contactless payments in Singapore with the launch of its
Touch ‘n Go CashCard in 2001.
With FlashPay NETS has set its sights on
expanding its reach in small-value payments in quick service food
and retail outlets, convenience stores and supermarkets where it
estimates that about S$1 billion of cash-based transactions can
potentially be converted into electronic payments.
Very strong in the retail
“NETS has always been strong in the retail
sector. We have more than 56,000 payment points spread across
Singapore of which 37,000 are retail points,” said NETS chief
executive Poh Mui Hoon.
“We will work closely with our merchants to
ensure that our new NETS FlashPay card is widely accepted on our
merchant network, and we will expand our presence in quick service
To achieve its expansionary objective, NETS is
also working with its shareholder banks, DBS Bank, Oversea-Chinese
Banking Corporation and United Overseas Bank (UOB), to issue ATM
and debit cards that will also carry NETS FlashPay stored value
These integrated cards will be the first of
their kind in the world, combining debit with stored value top-up
in a single transaction.
This unique feature will enable consumers to
perform a stored value top-up while making a purchase.
Should the FlashPay card’s stored value be
below the purchase price, consumers have the option to debit the
purchase amount directly from their bank account and perform a
stored value top-up at the same time. FlashPay Card can store up to
a maximum of S$500.
Of especial interest will be the development
of FlashPay which NETS heralds as “the first in a series of
Notably, FlashPay made its first appearance in
September 2007 as a near field communication (NFC) application on a
The FlashPay mobile phone NFC payments
application was the subject of an in-house trial in collaboration
with mobile phone network operator SingTel.
This was followed by a six-month public trial
involving 250 SingTel and UOB customers equipped and 500 merchants.
NFC technology and over-the-air applications for the trials were
supplied by US mobile payments specialist VivoTech.
At the time of trial, Mui Hoon predicted that
NFC would be “the next big thing for electronic payments”.
She added that NETS anticipated that 3 out of
10 mobile phones would be NFC-compatible by 2012.