Hardware maker Razer, a company known for making the Razer gaming smartphone and gaming peripherals, announced in March that it had started making surgical face masks at its manufacturing facility to fight the coronavirus pandemic. The company had even promised to donate a million masks to the world.
Now, it has announced that it will dispense around five million masks in its home country of Singapore through a network of vending machines across the island, where it has become mandatory to wear masks in public.
20 vending mask vending machines
As part of its #RazerForLife initiative, the company will deploy 20 vending machines starting at Fraser's Property's malls and JustCo co-working centres around the business district before June 1, when the lockdown measures are set to be lifted in the country.
Razer will give one free #RazerForLife surgical mask to every adult Singaporean aged 16 years and above, but on one condition – they have to sign up for its payment system called Razer Pay for verification.
Upon verification, eligible participants will be given a mask "coupon" on the Razer Pay app. The company says the process may take up to one business day, so there may be some waiting involved. However, once a user gets the coupon on the app, they just need to go to #RazerForLife mask vending machine and scan the coupon to receive their free mask.
The company said it has partnered with Sunnigdale Tech, a precision plastic manufacturer, to double its surgical mask production capacity to up to 10 million a month, after Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan directed some of the company's manufacturing resources to produce surgical face masks instead of gaming kits in April.
Razer says it is running a beta test from May 12 to June 2, with a full deployment of the 20 vending machines set to follow after the "circuit-breaker" lockdown measures in the city are eased. For now, the company has only one vending machine at Waterway Point.
Concern over verification procedure
As noble and generous as the gesture may sound, it has been attracting quite a bit of flak online because the process requires signing up for and getting onboard the company's Razer Pay app. It provides an e-wallet for consumers, credit card processing for online and offline merchants, a credit top-up system, bill-payment facilities and a gift card ecosystem.
Signing up for Razer Pay requires access to some of your personal data and some users are questioning Razer's real intentions. According to a Reditt user, the verification process requires a user to provide their NRIC or passport details to "ensure a secure usage environment."
The verification process is extensive where users have to provide data such as their names, nationality, date of birth, residential address. They also have to submit front and back photos of their NRIC as well as a selfie.
Tan has clarified why his company's decision to use Razer Pay for verification is the safest way to prevent fraudulent claims of free masks.
"Actually that's the only way we could figure out how to prevent fraud. We aren't the government and have no access to the NRIC. We're funding this entirely ourselves," he wrote in a Reddit thread, adding that the company is not forcing anyone to redeem Razer's masks.
"We would've been happy to use any other system that would allow us to given every Singaporean a mask. But if you think about it, it's easier said than done," he wrote.
"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 also took to Facebook and posted: "I see some negativity about how we require verification via Razer Pay - but if you think about it - this is the only way we'll be 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."
Singapore circuit breaker measures
Singapore is currently implementing "circuit breaker" measures aimed at curbing the coronavirus after experiencing a second wave of infections centered on accommodations housing migrant workers in the country. The circuit breaker measures require Singaporeans to stay at home unless absolutely necessary but to compulsorily wear masks when they are in public.