S’poreans to get govt payouts by scanning faces at ATMs


The service is powered by the GovWallet technology and allows people to withdraw government payouts from 500 OCBC Bank ATMs, even if they do not have an account with any bank. — Reuters

SINGAPORE: A new digital tool will allow Singaporeans who do not have bank accounts or smartphones to receive government payouts easily.

The tool, dubbed GovWallet, allows citizens to get the money in a few ways, including at selected ATMs by scanning their faces.

Another way involves GovWallet permitting the payouts to be received through mobile apps like the Government Technology Agency’s (GovTech) LifeSG app. LifeSG gives users access to government services, such as checking their Central Provident Fund (CPF) balances and applying for a passport.

Citizens can then use PayNow to transfer the government payouts from the LifeSG app to their bank accounts.

GovWallet, which is also developed by GovTech, is expected to allow people to use the payouts to make Nets payments in stores soon.

The new tool was announced by Minister-in-Charge of Smart Nation and Cybersecurity Josephine Teo during the debate on the budget of the Prime Minister’s Office on Wednesday (March 2).

GovTech developed GovWallet in part to help government agencies disburse payouts to people who do not have bank accounts.

An example of this is the GovCash service announced by the CPF Board on Feb 21. It was progressively rolled out from November last year.

The service is powered by the GovWallet technology and allows people to withdraw government payouts from 500 OCBC Bank ATMs, even if they do not have an account with any bank.

The process has steps to verify the identities of those making the withdrawals, like face scanning.

The payouts that can be withdrawn in this way include Workfare Income Supplement, Workfare Special Payment and Training Commitment Award.

The ATM disbursement also means that people who are less tech savvy and do not have smartphones have a way to receive the payouts.

Another benefit of GovWallet is that by giving payouts through ATMs or apps without using paper vouchers, there is no more hassle of distributing and collecting physical vouchers.

“What used to take multiple steps and even a visit to a service touchpoint can now be done anytime, anywhere,” said GovTech, referring to how people collected payouts in the past.

The Smart Nation Digital Government Group, which GovTech is a part of, said GovWallet was developed by bringing together various digital components such as identity management and payments, so that other agencies can incorporate GovWallet functions into new or existing applications without building their own.

“This, in turn, reduces duplication of development efforts and cost across Government,” the group added.

Besides LifeSG, GovTech said GovWallet can be easily integrated with existing government mobile apps, such as Singpass, and the Health Promotion Board’s Healthy 365 app which encourages people to lead a healthy lifestyle like rewarding them for exercising and getting enough sleep.

No confirmation on Healthy 365 using GovWallet was given but the app allows users to redeem electronic vouchers based on the number of steps they have walked.

As for other agencies using GovWallet, GovTech said the technology has “received interest from many organisations to be used in household and social assistance programmes, sector-specific relief programmes, and even staff recognition programmes”.

The Smart Nation Digital Government Group added that “there is no one-size-fits-all tool that solves all our digital needs” and that it is working with various agencies to identify people’s pain points and develop digital tools to address different needs.

For instance, a tech system called RedeemSG is used in the disbursement of CDC vouchers with fixed denominations as it allows for less tech-savvy people to print out the digital vouchers for use.

This function is not available in GovWallet that taps an existing pool of merchants already on e-payment systems like PayNow or, in future, Nets.

Users can key in the amount they wish to spend at these merchants.

Currently, GovWallet allows government payouts to be used to make payments at the 164,000 merchants that accept PayNow bank fund transfers through apps like LifeSG.

The merchants include e-commerce platforms like Shopee and Lazada, and charity organisations like Giving.sg

Payments can be done by opening the LifeSG app and scanning an SGQR code.

With the extension of GovWallet to Nets, people will have more options in how they want to use the payouts, with 42,000 merchants now on the payment system.

While a list of participating merchants and when Nets will be included are not immediately known, Nets card payments are now accepted at many retailers, dining outlets and healthcare institutions, among others.

Teo, who is also Minister for Communications and Information, highlighted on Wednesday how GovWallet is used to give payouts to national servicemen.

Since November last year, the Ministry of Defence has used GovWallet to disburse cash recognition benefits to 35,000 NSmen through the LifeSG app.

GovWallet is one of several examples Teo cited on Singapore’s smart nation vision of going cashless and using electronic payments.

She noted how in 2017, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he was looking forward to paying for his next meal at a hawker centre with PayNow.

“Today, more than half of all hawkers have adopted e-payments. In fact, more than S$200mil (RM618.08mil) PayNow transactions were made every day last year,” said Teo. – The Straits Times (Singapore)/Asia News Network

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