Poh Mui Hoon, the CEO of Singapore's Network for Electronic Transfers (NETS) which operates a nationwide infrastructure to enable payment via ATM cards, sees a bright future for electronic and mobile commerce.
You were previously CEO and president of e-commerce services provider, Sesami, since its inception in 1999. You took over the helm at NETS just over a year ago from former CEO Wee Tew Lim who was with the company for 17 years. How has it been?
It's been interesting, challenging and fun. There have been some changes: most importantly, we're increasing our engagement with our customers--that has always been my focus. And we've been doing that through various campaigns such as NETS Rewards. (Launched earlier this year, the pointsystem scheme rewards customers for making payment by CashCard or NETS with cash and prizes.)
People then have a better sense of NETS as an organization that had orchestrated this whole iconic (Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale--EFTPOS) infrastructure which has grown so much since it first launched here in 1986.
We're also focused on our merchants and on helping them to co-promote and drive transaction volume, and at the same time, engaging them to help drive their business. Some of the programmes we recently launched include Mall Magic and eNETS China Payment. (With Mall Magic, NETS teams up with shopping malls such as Suntec City, in a bid to promote transactions by giving free movie tickets and free parking to shoppers who spend above a pre-defined amount using NETS or CashCards.
eNETS China enables shoppers in the Mainland to use their Chinese bank debit cards to purchase goods and services from Singapore's online merchants, and for shoppers in Singapore to do likewise with Chinese online merchants.)
I want to place a stronger emphasis on the international front and am focusing on our expansion overseas, taking the things we've done well in Singapore to other countries. Within NETS itself, I've been looking at ways to encourage innovation and to get our people to start thinking of new and better ways of doing things.
Is that how you want NETS to be seen--an organization that innovates?
NETS, by nature of our services, is an e-payment processing company. I would therefore like consumers to see us as a provider of trust, which is very important in the kind of service we provide, and for merchants to see us as a trusted partner.
Do you then see e-payment and ecommerce continuing to grow?
It is here to stay. Over the next five years, it will grow at a tremendous rate, driven by upcoming growth in areas such as music downloads and online gaming, and by people who are increasingly Netsavvy and who grew up in this Webconnected environment.
There's no turning back. That's why we're investing in Internet and mobile payments. While the transaction volume isn't significant yet, compared to the volume transacted on our physical EFTPOS infrastructure, we've put in the investment to build the same type of 'heavy-duty' architecture that's ready for the Internet and that is has similar components, such as security and fault tolerance.
You seem optimistic about mobile payment which, frankly, hasn't quite taken off?
As mobile payment technology become more user-friendly, it will take off. Today, Java applications are coming up and the graphical user interface for mobile platforms is getting better. This will help push user demand.
Do you see the same type of potential in contactless cards?
It is a trend that has been here for a while, and we ourselves are looking at creating a card that combines both contactless and contact cards--or what we call, a combi card. This would allow for more applications to be offered to customers.