NTUC Enterprise uses GCP to enable FairPrice app payment

NTUC Enterprise uses GCP to enable FairPrice app payment
Image credit: NTUC FairPrice

New use case for cloud services disclosed.

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NTUC Enterprise used Google Cloud Platform services to help architect a payment add-on to the NTUC FairPrice app last year and to aid financial reconciliation on the back end.

In a blog post published by Google Cloud, product development lead Alvin Choo and principal software engineer Zheng Ming New laid out the payments use case, which comes in addition to data use cases that the cooperative publicised back in June.

Supermarket chain NTUC FairPrice launched an in-app payment solution, Pay via the FairPrice app, in August last year that uses QR codes for payments and loyalty point collection.

The payment solution can also be used at NTUC’s pharmacy chain, Unity. In total, over 200 stores can accept payment from the app.

NTUC Enterprise said it used three GCP services - Cloud Functions, BigQuery and Cloud Run - to handle behind-the-scenes financial reconciliation and to build stability and scalability into the payments service.

The latter was particularly important from a customer-facing perspective as, “instead of a staggered rollout, we opted for a ‘big bang’ launch across all FairPrice and Unity stores across Singapore,” Choo and Zheng jointly wrote.

“One of the key objectives of launching pay for our FairPrice app is to enable faster, more seamless checkouts across all stores in our retail network, through quick-and-easy QR code scanning. 

“With a ‘big bang’ rollout, we needed the most powerful and agile computing infrastructure available to handle fluctuations in footfall at our stores, from peak lunchtime to dips in the middle of the night.”

Choo and Zheng wrote that the new payment solution was NTUC’s first use of Google’s Cloud Run service, a managed compute platform for containerised workloads.

They added that the “experiment paid off”, and that automation enabled through Cloud Run freed “several hours per week” that could be reinvested in “developing new features and updates for the FairPrice app.”

“Ultimately, this convenience is passed on to our customers, translating into a more seamless and enjoyable shopping experience,” they said.

NTUC has broader ambitions for the FairPrice app beyond payment, and sees the possibility to use additional GCP services “to turn the FairPrice App into a food ‘super app.’”

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