On Tuesday, May 12, Razer said it will set up 20 vending machines across Singapore that will dispense a total of about 5 million free masks to the city-state’s residents aged 16 and above.
Here’s the catch: they must first sign up to use the mobile wallet Razer Pay. After their identity is verified, they will receive a QR code via the app. This QR code must then be scanned at the vending machines.
While many have commended Razer for its charitable act, there’s also a group of people who are skeptical about this initiative.
Is there a hidden agenda behind this initiative?
Many netizens have argued that this is simply Razer’s tactic to get people to download and sign up for its fledgling Razer Pay app.
Others cited their concerns over the collection of personal data in exchange for a disposable mask, and question whether the move is in line with the Personal Data Protection Act guidelines.
To verify one’s account on Razer Pay, users are required to provide personal information such as their names, residential addresses, as well as their national registration identity card or passport details.
On its website, Razer Pay reasoned that this is necessary to “ensure a secure usage environment.”
Another concern about the use of Razer Pay is that this initiative is excluding the elderly in Singapore. They might not know how to download the app, much less sign up for an account.
Razer CEO steps up to debunk cynics
Responding to the criticisms, Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan edited his Facebook post with a clarification. On whether this initiative is a disguise to collect personal data, Tan said that “this is the only way [they are] able to ensure there’s no free for all on the masks.”
“We aren’t the government and have no access to the Identity Cards etc. We’re funding this completely ourselves and would like to ensure there’s no fraud,” Tan wrote.
On the Singapore subreddit, Tan also stressed that “no one is compelled to sign up for it.” He went on to explain why utilizing Razer Pay is their best option to prevent fraudulent claims of free masks: “We would’ve been happy to use any other system that would allow us to given[sic] every Singaporean a mask. But if you think about it, it’s easier said than done. There are really very few ways to achieve it (and I’m actually surprised a non-govt organization like us is able to). I think it’s easy to be cynical and assume it’s a ploy to get user base. But candidly, there are easier ways than to give millions of masks (which is something everyone needs right now) away.”
Tan has a point. Razer is not forcing anyone to redeem Razer masks, so if having to sign up for a Razer Pay account does not sit well with you, then don’t. It just means you won’t get a free mask.
This article was first published by Vulcan Post.