The Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) new Payments Council plans to set up interoperable electronic payments and has unveiled a taskforce to develop a common QR code for the city-state.

As reported earlier this month, the Council launched and comprises 20 people from banks, payment service providers, businesses, and trade associations. MAS says the setting up of the Council is part of a series of initiatives it is taking towards “realising the vision of an e-payments society in Singapore”.

At the Council’s inaugural meeting, members felt interoperability among e-payments solutions was “lacking”. It agreed that Singapore had the right infrastructure in place to achieve this vision but needed better co-ordination within the ecosystem of banks and other industry players.

Unsurprisingly, the Council heaped praise on PayNow, the peer-to-peer (P2P) funds transfer service unveiled in June. But some helpful stats were offered – PayNow is now offered by seven banks, and has seen more than 500,000 registrations and more than $10 million in transfers since its launch.

The Council says there is scope to improve the user interface and experience of the bank solutions riding on PayNow. A specific example was to provide SMS notifications to both senders and recipients of funds.

In terms of the common QR code, the feeling was that the “proliferation of more proprietary QR codes at such merchants risked fragmentation of payment solutions and inefficiency among merchants and consumers”.

Therefore, the Council agreed to establish an industry taskforce to develop a common QR code for Singapore (SGQR). The SGQR Taskforce will be co-led by MAS and the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) and involve banks, payment schemes, QR payment service providers, and relevant government agencies.

The SGQR Taskforce aims to have in place by the end of 2017, standardised specifications to accept both domestic and international payment schemes. It will also consider the governance structure and implementation strategy for QR payments.

Beyond the words

Away from meetings and taskforces, MAS has been busy. It usually is.

Last month, it called for a second reading of a Bill that it says will ensure a sound and resilient financial system for the city-state. It also signed a fintech co-operation agreement with the Bank of Thailand.

In June, it laid down some guidelines and asked for opinions on providing robo-advisory services.

While in May, MAS and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) started working together to establish and develop their ASEAN Financial Innovation Network (AFIN).

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