Singapore proposes e-payment guidelines to protect consumers

Industry regulator seeks public consult on e-payment guidelines it says are aimed at protecting consumers and driving wider adoption of such payment platforms.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

Singapore has proposed e-payment guidelines that it says are aimed at protecting consumers and driving wider adoption of such platforms in the country.

Industry regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said it was seeking public feedback on the guidelines, which also outlined responsibilities of financial institutions and e-payment users.

Singapore outlines plan to 'catch up' on becoming cashless society

Amongst others, the proposed guidelines included expectations of financial institutions to establish clear resolution processes for unauthorised or erroneous payment transactions. E-payments users also would be expected to adopt "good security practices" to safeguard their passwords and accounts.

Consumers and micro-enterprises, defined as companies with fewer than 10 employees or an annual turnover of less than S$1 million, with e-payment accounts also would be provided timely notifications of all e-payment transactions.

MAS's deputy managing director Jacqueline Loh said the regulator aimed to make e-payments "simpler and more secure". "MAS hopes these guidelines will help...give individuals and micro-enterprises more confidence to adopt and integrate e-payments into their daily activities," Loh said.

According to the industry regulator, the guidelines aimed to protect e-payment users from higher value losses. As such, accounts that held a limited amount of less than S$500, such as stored value cards used for public transport, would not be covered under these guidelines.

The proposed guidelines encompassed, amongst others, measures related to unauthorised transactions such as if, and if so how much, e-payment account holders should be held liable for losses.

For instance, where the account holders did not contribute to the loss and had taken full care to protect their accounts, they should not be liable for such losses. "This includes situations where the financial institution or merchant has been fraudulent or negligent, or where the account holder shows that the account user did not contribute to the loss," MAS noted in its guidelines.

Financial institutions also would be expected to provide account holders adequate transaction notifications, opportunities for account holders to confirm payment transactions, and free transaction reporting channel.

Furthermore, adequate notifications should be provided to enable account holders to properly monitor their accounts. Financial institutions must send account holders a consolidated list of all transactions made to and from their account at least once a day, according to the proposed guidelines. Such notifications should be sent to the account holders' mobile number via SMS or via e-mail.

MAS said it was seeking public feedback on the proposed guidelines until March 16, 2018.

The Singapore government was keen to drive adoption of e-payment in the country, which it said had fallen behind others such as China where cash had become almost obsolete in major cities. Six in 10 transactions in Singapore still involved cash and cheques, noted its Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who added that e-payment adoption had been hindered by too many different schemes and systems that did not interoperate.

As part of efforts to drive cashless payments in the country, MAS in August launched an initiative to develop a universal QR code that would support both local and international payment options.

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