Mr Dennis Tan Lip Fong (Hougang): Mr Chairperson, there has been a concerted effort to educate and encourage all seniors to go digital. While such projects, like Seniors Go Digital and Hawkers Go Digital, are highly commendable, there must be the awareness of the gap between the availability of technology and the people using it. Contactless payments through credit and debit cards have recently become the norm in Singapore, at retail merchant outlets and even in buses and trains since 2019.
Until recently, NETS relies on a PIN for verification since its inception in 1985. Recently, though, NETS has pushed out their new contactless card with similar operating principles for contactless cards as international scheme debit cards. This has led to some worries among the elderly. While contactless payment has made payments easy, senior citizens are more vulnerable to scams. The spike in bank account debit and credit-card scams in recent years has also made the elderly concerned over losing their hard-earned money in these scams. One of my elderly residents was told by DBS that all new cards will be contactless and they will not allow any card requiring PIN for all transactions. He contrasted DBS’ services with OCBC’s which, he said, provided a debit card which is digitally rendered non-operative by default unless so activated by the customer.
Mr Chairperson. I understand that Singapore uses a chip and signature system in verifying payments through debit and credit payments. Many European countries, on the other hand, have implemented a chip-and-PIN authentication system. Such a system may be a good guard against attempts at fraudulent payment scams targeted at debit and credit cards. Indeed, we have seen an increase of such cases in the recent one to two years, and many against our senior citizens.
I would like to urge MAS to explore having a chip-and-PIN debit card or a PIN-only NETS-enabled ATM bank card only meant for domestic payments that are issued to senior citizens. Such cards can provide an added layer of defence to senior citizens against any fraud or scams.
Prime Minister’s Office
26 February 2021