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Entrepreneurs need support instead of criticism

There is no doubt a unified e-payment system is the way of the future; its benefits for Singaporeans are unquestionable.

The objective has always been to enable Singapore to be a cashless society whether through Nets, PayNow, RazerPay, GrabPay or other contenders.

The recent RazerPay proposal appears to have brought hordes of critics out from the woods.

While many have praised Mr Tan Min-Liang, CEO of Razer, as an innovator, the proposal and Mr Tan himself have been heavily criticised.

Some have accused him of drumming up publicity for Razer's IPO or that it is a marketing ploy. Others claimed he was being cheeky and did not expect Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to respond.

As a founder, I find this sort of response discouraging and makes me question the type of environment we are fostering (or not) in Singapore.

I am not here to defend the RazerPay proposal. I am here to urge everyone to look beyond the proposal and the message we send.

We need to champion people who take calculated risks because now, more than ever, we need Singaporeans to have an indomitable spirit.

These are challenging times and we need to stop being so daunted by failures that we do nothing.

In their own ways, each and every entrepreneur or founder is trying. Most of us fail. We know the chances of succeeding is low, so please, don't add to the weight of doubts that entrepreneurs have to face by shredding them to pieces.

Yes, Razer has no experience in large-scale payment transactions and operations, and its proposal lacks the technical details that experts wanted.

But Mr Tan showed initiative and raised his hand and delivered on what he had promised - a proposal in the form of RazerPay. He cannot be accused of "all talk, no action".

Should the plan go through, he will be committing $10 million to seed the e-payment system. This is in a bid to advance Singapore towards a cashless society.

Because Mr Tan made good on the promise to PM Lee, more people have sat up and taken notice of the cashless system debate and issue. It brought a new widespread interest in fintech in Singapore.

DISHEARTENING

The magnitude of the criticism is disheartening especially as the effort that went into questioning Mr Tan's proposal did not provide useful alternatives and suggestions.

The rhetoric we should be focusing on is not how bad RazerPay is or how it won't succeed.

The critical question should be: How can we contribute to making a difference?

Mr Sim Wong Hoo of Creative Technology used to be one of the few recognisable, high-profile public technology company founders.

He popularised the term "No U-Turn Syndrome", emphasising how Singaporeans had to gain permission from the authorities before taking action. He believed being overly compliant stifles innovation and creativity (pun intended).

Fast forward to today, the entrepreneurship scene here is dramatically different. On average, more than 50,000 new businesses are formed in Singapore every year. Based on an August report this year, the cessation rate for businesses spiked to 22 per cent last year.

While you don't have to be a cheerleader for every entrepreneur or idea in the market, I hope we can all collectively reflect on the kind of community we would like to build for future generations.

The writer is CEO of 
The New Savvy, an online financial and career platform, and heads the Women in FinTech and Partnership Committee.

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