Singapore is kicking off its e-payments drive by trialling a smart parking app that allows motorists to pay for parking fares using their phones.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority, Housing & Development Board, and Government Technology Agency of Singapore are joining forces to develop the app, according to a joint press release.

Public sector officers will be conducting a trial of the app from May to June 2017. The trial will be extended to include members of the public later in the year, the release said.

The app will provide more convenience for motorists, who previously had to contend with using paper coupons.

So far, Singapore has been relatively slow to embrace mobile payments. In China for example, use of WeChat Pay and AliPay is part of everyday life. And in Dubai and Estonia, smart parking apps allow motorists to pay for parking through their phone bills.

A KPMG report that was commissioned by the Monetary Authority of Singapore describes the “payments ecosystem” in Singapore as “safe, sound, and secure with world-class technology”, but where “consumers and businesses still rely substantially on cash and cheques”.

Cash is used in 60% of non-stored value facility transactions in Singapore, according to the report. Stored value facility refers to prepaid electronic cash cards, commonly used for public transport fares.

The report also shows that cash is most frequently used to pay for items at the hawker centre (food court) and wet market, neighbourhood stores, taxi fares and household repairs.

Singaporean consumers still use cash in a wide variety of situations, the report said, rendering Singapore “unique” among highly-developed economies.

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