From June next year a trial system that allows commuters to pay their public transport fares using contactless credit or debit cards will be extended to more payment types including Visa and Nets 2.0 .
The new account-based ticketing system will also be extended to mobile payment modes, such as Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay, from the first quarter of next year under the Mastercard trial, the LTA added.
So far, more than 100,000 commuters have signed up for the MasterCard pilot. By allowing commuters to use contactless credit or debit cards, the system removes the need for Cepas cards such as EZ-Link or Nets Flashpay cards.
Speaking in Parliament on Monday, Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min said the system will eventually be fully rolled out across the entire public transport system.
“Our aim is for commuters, including tourists, to avoid the hassle of doing cash top-ups. Topping up with cash is cumbersome for the commuter as he has to queue up to withdraw cash, then queue up again to top up the card. Maintaining cash facilities at MRT stations and buses also imposes additional costs of almost $20 million a year,” he said.
The LTA and TransitLink had said last month that cash payments or top-ups for public transport services will be phased out completely by 2020, as part of the Republic’s move towards becoming a Smart Nation.
Visa said on Monday that consumers in Singapore use its payWave contactless cards to make more than eight million contactless transactions per month.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Nets, Singapore’s leading payment network, said: “Nets 2.0 is about digital payments, whether it is in the form of physical contactless Nets ATM bankcards, digitised Nets ATM bankcards on mobile phones, smart wearables linked to your Nets ATM bankcard or Nets QR code payment.”
Dr Lam was replying to questions from Members of Parliament (MPs) on the plan to implement a cashless public transport system. Among other things, the MPs wanted to know how the Government would help senior citizens get on board the cashless initiative.
Dr Lam replied that more than 98 per cent of commuters here already use Cepas – or contactless e-purse application specification – cards to pay their transport fares. This includes the “most senior citizens”, he said, noting there are about 700,000 senior citizen concession card holders.
Mr Zaqy Mohamad (Chua Chu Kang GRC) asked if savings from the removal of cash facilities would be passed on to commuters. This would depend on the profits and losses of public transport operators, Dr Lam replied.
As to whether the fees currently imposed on EZ Link card top ups – which can cost up to 50 cents at convenience stores – could be reduced, Dr Lam said this is an issue for the various agencies involved to discuss.
Mr Ang Wei Neng (Jurong GRC) had asked how those without bank accounts or are unable to maintain a minimum deposit in their accounts will be accommodated in a cashless system.
Dr Lam said the Transport Ministry and the Monetary Authority of Singapore, will work together with the banking industry and grassroots organisations to help the elderly adjust to electronic payment methods.
He also told Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC) the authorities will also look at how the opening of bank accounts can be facilitated for foreign workers.