Singapore consumers harbour distrust of e-payment: study

Just half of Singapore consumers rate e-wallets and payment apps as adequately secure and 65 percent say likewise for mobile banking apps, reveals study, indicating the lowest confidence level amongst six Asian markets.

Just half of Singapore consumers believe e-wallets and payment apps are adequately secure and 65 percent say likewise for mobile banking apps, which are the lowest amongst six Asian markets.

In comparison, 80 percent and 77 percent in Indonesia said mobile banking apps and e-wallets, respectively, were adequately secured, according to VMware's Banking Consumer 2020 study, which was conducted in September and polled 6,000 respondents in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, South Korea, and the Philippines.

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Asked to rate the level of security for transactions processed by various methods, these respondents had ranked such payment platforms between 7 and 10, with 1 the least secure and 10 the most secure.

Across the five Southeast Asian markets, excluding South Korea, 65 percent of respondents believed e-payment apps and wallets were adequately secure while the average for those who felt likewise for mobile banking apps was 71 percent.

Some 76 percent across the region, however, used the same passwords for all of the apps and services that held personal payment data, the study found. In Singapore, this figure stood at 86 percent, with only 14 percent using different passwords for their online accounts--the lowest amongst Southeast Asian markets. At 30 percent, Thailand led the region in its use of different passwords across their online accounts.

These findings might be worrying, considering 58 percent across the region stored their bank, debit, or credit card details in at least one online service, app, or subscription. In Singapore, 46 percent did likewise, as did 65 percent in Indonesia and 63 percent in Thailand.

VMware's Southeast Asia and Korea vice president and managing director, Sanjay K. Deshmukh, said in the report Thursday: "With Singapore expected to be 82% cashless by 2022, according to Frost & Sullivan's Future of Cashless Payment in Singapore 2018 report, banks and FSIs (financial services institutions) have a pressing need to boost their cybersecurity defenses.

"Existing architecture is insufficient to guard against this new payment reality," he said, adding that FSIs needed a new network infrastructure to protect their apps, data, and customers across multiple cloud environments.

Amidst the Singapore government's goal to become a cashless society, its citizens still deemed cash to be the most secure mode of transaction, with 81 percent rating the physical paper between 7 and 10 in terms of security.

The nation's consumers believed connected things such as fashion accessories and wireless speakers that had payment capabilities as the least secure, with just 31 percent rating these devices 7 to 10.

Asked to rate their bank's performance in terms of providing transparency in their policies and terms and conditions, just over half at 55 percent of Singapore consumers gave a rating of between 7 and 10, with 1 being the poorest performance and 10 the best. Across the region, this figure clocked at 69 percent, with Indonesians the happiest with their bank's performance in this aspect, at 80 percent.

In terms of their bank's performance with regards to data privacy and ethical use of data, 61 percent of Singapore consumers rated their provider on a scale of 7 to 10, compared to 73 percent across the region. Again, here, Indonesia was the most satisfied with their bank's performance at 84 percent.

Singapore has made various efforts in its bid to encourage higher adoption of e-payments, including rolling out a single, unified POS terminal and introducing a peer-to-peer funds transfer service that enables users to pay and receive money using mobile numbers.

It also launched a universal QR code last month, which it hoped would better facilitate payments amongst different payment schemes, e-wallets, and banks.