Mobile is key in Smart Nation push

Firms must capitalise on mobile's critical role and develop innovative solutions to everyday problems

From mobile payments, such as PayNow, and the launch of a coupon-free parking app, to online shopping and the Housing Board's smart home sensors that are synced to mobile devices, the role of mobile in building a Smart Nation took centre stage in Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's National Day Rally.

Although Singapore tops the region in smartphone adoption, concerns abound on whether usage is rudimentary, and whether businesses and consumers are taking full advantage of mobile, as Mr Lee said.

To achieve the Smart Nation vision and drive business goals, companies here have to relook their mobile strategy and encourage higher usage of smartphone across all its various functions among consumers.

The move to a cashless economy is just a start.

To start with, despite being a modern metropolis with numerous mobile payment options, Singapore lags behind other cities in e-payment use - six out of 10 transactions here are settled with cash or cheque.

Against this backdrop, the number of mobile payment providers here is expanding, with Alipay announcing its plan to launch a local e-wallet for Singapore consumers.

Demand must rise to match this rapidly growing supply.

The promise of mobile payment is undeniable - it delivers a seamless, omnichannel experience, eliminates the need to carry wads of cash or key in long card numbers for each purchase, and allows consumers to manage payment on the go.

However, a key reason behind the slow take-up is concerns around data security.

Brands and marketers therefore have to invest in security technologies and communicate them to consumers to assuage their security concerns.


This helps build consumer trust and confidence in the mechanism and infrastructure of mobile payment, and encourage a more intuitive adoption of contactless payment.

Apart from data security, brands also ought to look into improving user experience with mobile payment so as to deliver a smoother payment experience for consumers.

"We need to do much better", Mr Lee had urged, emphasising that we have to do more if we want to truly become a Smart Nation. This is not the first time he has raised the challenge.

In a digitally advanced city like Singapore, the impact of smart technologies may not be keenly felt - implementations on a macro level may be misperceived as lofty, if consumers are unable to fully experience it themselves.

This is why it is all the more important for people to recognise how becoming a Smart Nation can help them overcome their day-to-day challenges.

In light of this, mobilehas become the key to unlocking our Smart Nation future.

Contactless payment is not the only benefit brought about by mobile. Its other functions, ranging from instant messaging, online shopping, ride-hailing, and connection to other smart devices help drive convenience, productivity and social connectivity.

Now more than ever, brands should capitalise on the critical role mobile holds in our society and the unparalleled opportunities that come with it, and develop innovative mobile solutions to everyday problems.

Only then, can we truly build a faster and smarter Singapore for all of us to live and work in.

The writer is Asia Pacific managing director at 
Mobile Marketing Association.