The drive among payments companies, banks, and governments to displace cash continues. And for many, the concept of using QR codes holds a great deal of promise.
Relatively easy to use and implement, the two-dimensional codes are more attractive to small and micro-merchants – where cash still reigns in many cases.
But are they being accepted by users?
This week, Singapore’s OCBC Bank launched its first standalone mobile application, which brings together its electronic payments options within one app.
With the introduction of the app, it has launched a QR code payment option that allows consumers to pay directly from their OCBC account by scanning QR codes from the NETS terminals of participating merchants.
Users will then authenticate their transactions using their fingerprint.
The bank is encouraging customers to try the QR code feature by offering a $10 cash rebate on their first purchase.
In a press release, Pranav Seth, OCBC Bank’s head of E-Business, Business Transformation and Fintech and Innovation Group, described the move as a “war on cash.”
“The launch of QR code cashless payment adds to the suite of OCBC Pay Anyone e-payment services. I believe the pick-up of QR code cashless payments will be strong given the increasing acceptance rate of cashless payments in general over the years. We will continue to push the boundaries in mobile payments and move the needle in becoming a cashless society,” he said.
DBS Bank introduced a QR code for its mobile app in Singapore in April, also touting the feature as another blow to cash.
Jeremy Soo, head of Consumer Banking Group (Singapore), DBS Bank, said in a press release at the time, “We believe that cashless payments in Singapore is ripe for disruption. Singapore has one of the world’s highest smartphone penetration and surveys have indicated that the majority of consumers here are open to making payments with their mobile devices. All we need is a solution that has a low barrier to entry, is easy for merchants to implement, and for consumers to use.”
QR codes are praised for just those reasons. Light on infrastructure needs, they are relatively easy and inexpensive for merchants to implement. And the proliferation of QR payment apps promises to make them simple for consumers as well.
A recent article in the South China Morning Post indicates that QR codes’ proliferation in China is indeed having an effect – both good and bad – as it rapidly expands the use of mobile payments but also has opened the door to malicious use of the codes.
The story cites iResearch data indicating that the volume of mobile payments in China is up to US$55 trillion, more than 50 times that of the U.S.
The story also quotes consumer behavior researcher Chen Yiwen as saying, “China has started the transition to a cash-free economy faster than anyone could have imagined, largely because of the viral spread of two-dimensional barcode.”