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Singapore’s Land Transport Authority pilots wearable technology

Commuters in Singapore may be able to make contactless payments using wearable devices if trial is successful

Singapore commuters may soon be able to enjoy greater convenience through wearable and mobile wallet technology.

The country’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) – in collaboration with Singtel, Sony, EZ-Link, Nets and TransitLink – has launched a trial using mobile payments and the Sony SG50 SmartBand, which features near-field communication (NFC) technology, to pay fares.

“Insights provided by the trial will help LTA assess the performance of fare transactions using the smartband and gather feedback in assessing the potential use of wearable technology in public transit,” said LTA CEO Chew Men Leong.

Some 200 commuters are taking part in the trial which started in August 2015 and will end in February 2016.

Participants wear the Sony SG50 SmartBand, which is encoded with a digital contactless e-purse application (CEPAS) card designed for contactless payments on public transit. They can establish a Bluetooth connection with the Singtel mWallet app to check their band’s stored value balance and transactions while on the move.

In addition to public transit, commuters partaking in the trial are able to use their SG50 SmartBand to make retail payments at thousands of points across Singapore. They can also track their daily activities and sleep quality, and synchronise the measurements into their smartphones via Bluetooth for visual tracking and display.

“Like any new e-payment applications for public transport fare transactions, [the trial] needs to demonstrate that [the technology] works, is convenient and provides added value to commuters. In this light, the payment application will be assessed based on its compliance to CEPAS, public demand and results of performance tests,” said an LTA spokesperson.

Read more about technology adoption in Asean organisations

Enhancing user experience

According to IDC Asia-Pacific government insights programme manager Gerald Wang, wearable technology can be used as an extension to existing smart government initiatives and employed to enhance the mobile experience of users.

But for wearable technology deployment success, he said, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) governments must clearly differentiate between experience enhancements and deployment of technology for the sake of deployment.

“Ensure line-of-business officials are convinced; leverage on their improved productivity gains as well as enhanced service experiences to help government IT departments drive the adoption of these technologies organisation-wide,” said Wang.

He also warned that the manageability of wearables must not be underestimated.

“Continuously monitor wearables on the network," Wang said. "Government enterprises need to ensure the collection of information from wearables is accurately collected, securely stored, effectively analysed and deliberately shared with relevant approved authorities in government operations.”

Corporate data should have different levels of confidentiality, he added, with only selected or approved users allowed access to the data.

Emerging trends

According to Wang, mobile and wearable devices, and the sensors that power them, enhance operational manageability and can provide different electronic government services. 

“Though government agencies have not yet reached a tipping point for the mass adoption of enterprise mobility solutions coupled with the growing prevalence of wearables, there is definitely a growing hype toward being ready for the emerging era of internet of things,” he said.

According to IDC's government insights team, several Asean governments have begun conversations, while others are participating in pilot projects aimed at testing out the viability of wearable technologies.

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