On March 2, Minister-in-Charge of Smart Nation and Cybersecurity Josephine Teo announced during the debate on the budget of the Prime Minister’s Office that government agencies in Singapore can now tap onto a new e-wallet feature called GovWallet to better facilitate the distribution of payouts to citizens.
Currently, certain agencies may develop individual systems to conduct their respective distribution exercises, and beneficiaries may find themselves going through multiple touchpoints, which can be tedious.
As such, GovWallet aims to streamline this process and allow users to receive vouchers or credits from government schemes in a secure and convenient way.
It helps to mitigate confusion on how much payout is received by beneficiaries, while enhancing security without the need to click on potentially suspicious SMSes.
The development of GovWallet
GovWallet was first developed as an internal pilot project in GovTech when the team was looking for a way to credit staff benefits.
It has since partnered local banks and agencies to become a payment facilitator between agencies distributing payouts and the respective beneficiaries.
The development of GovWallet is beneficial to various stakeholders.
For citizens, GovWallet improves the user experience significantly by digitalising the process of collecting physical vouchers or redeeming credits from government schemes, without the need for paper vouchers.
“What used to take multiple steps and even a visit to a service touch point can now be done any time, anywhere,” said GovTech.
“GovWallet also improves inclusion because even people without bank accounts can view and utilise their government payouts via apps like LifeSG.”
For government agencies, GovWallet makes it easy to design government credits and voucher schemes that are more targeted.
“Government agencies are able to specify the list of merchants that qualify for each scheme, such as if they want the credits or vouchers to be spent at heartland shops or at merchants that meet healthy lifestyle standards,” added GovTech.
Lastly, for merchants, GovWallet is convenient and seamless. Payments are made to them using the PayNow e-payments infrastructure, which means that fund transfers are instant. Many merchants are already onboard PayNow and no additional sign-up is required.
How to use GovWallet?
GovWallet can be accessed through official government apps such as LifeSG, and the monies and credits disbursed can then be used at participating merchants by scanning a PayNow QR code.
There are currently 164,000 merchants that are already onboarded with PayNow, such as e-commerce platforms Shopee and Lazada, as well as charity organisations like Giving.sg.
By tapping on local banks’ PayNow ecosystem, GovWallet is able to perform instant transfers from agencies to beneficiaries.
GovWallet can also be integrated with ATMs to facilitate cash disbursement to those who are unbanked and without any mobile devices through GovCash service, which was announced by the Central Provision Board (CPFB) in February.
Progressively rolled out since November 2021, the GovWallet-powered service allows people to withdraw government payouts from 500 OCBC ATMs islandwide, even if they do not have an account with any bank.
These OCBC ATMs make use of face scanning to verify the identity of those making the withdrawal.
Several government agencies have already been using GovWallet.
“For example, the CPFB is using GovWallet to disburse the Workfare Income Supplement for eligible Singaporeans who are unable to use direct bank crediting. This enables recipients without a bank account to withdraw their monies at OCBC ATMs using the Payment Reference Number mailed to them,” said a spokesperson from the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (SNDGG), which GovTech is a part of.
Since November last year, the Ministry of Defence has also used GovWallet to disburse cash recognition benefits to 35,000 national servicemen through the LifeSG app.
Government agencies have the option to allow beneficiaries to withdraw their payouts in the form of cash at OCBC ATMs, or spend them as e-credits via the LifeSG app.
What can we expect next?
“(GovWallet) is developed by bringing together various digital components such as identity management and payments, so other agencies can incorporate GovWallet functionalities into new or existing applications without building their own. This, in turn, reduces duplication of development efforts and cost across government,” shared the SNDGG spokesperson.
As such, GovWallet can be easily integrated with existing government mobile apps such as Singpass and Health Promotion Board’s Healthy 365.
Additionally, more government apps are in the pipeline to also use GovWallet.
According to GovTech, other agencies have expressed interest to adopt GovWallet for the management of household and social development, sector-specific relief, and staff recognition programmes.
“There is no one-size-fits-all tool that solves all our digital needs, and SNDGG is working with various agencies to identify citizens’ pain points and develop digital tools to address different needs,” the spokesperson added.
For instance, RedeemSG is used to disburse CDC vouchers with fixed denominations. For less tech-savvy people, they can head down to community centres to print out digital vouchers for use.
This function is currently not available in GovWallet, which taps on an existing pool of merchants already on e-payment systems such as PayNow, or in future, NETS.
To provide even more spending options for citizens, the GovWallet team is looking to expand beyond PayNow to tap on the NETS payment ecosystem by this April, which includes more than 120,000 acceptance points across 42,000 merchants in Singapore.
Featured Image Credit: Bernama / GovTech