Singapore shoppers 'still prefer traditional mode of payment'

Some new high-tech payment methods such as contactless cards are getting the cold shoulder from Singapore shoppers, who prefer to stick with cash, according to a new study yesterday. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Some new high-tech payment methods such as contactless cards are getting the cold shoulder from Singapore shoppers, who prefer to stick with cash, according to a new study yesterday. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

SOME new high-tech payment methods such as contactless cards are getting the cold shoulder from Singapore shoppers, who prefer to stick with cash, according to a new study yesterday.

The finding is surprising, given that Singapore is the leader in Asia in contactless-card ownership - yet many retailers and the public remain slow to adopt these smarter payment options, said analyst RFi Group.

These include contactless payment - transactions made by waving a card over a reader - digital wallets such as Apple Pay and bitcoins.

The study found that 54 per cent of Singapore respondents owned a debit or credit card with the contactless payment function and that 45 per cent have made a purchase using it.

But only 19 per cent said they would be willing to try new types of payments. And only 38 per cent could imagine a cashless society, while 65 per cent still prefer cash for low-value purchases like a cup of coffee.

The study involved online interviews across 16 markets, including Australia and China, with 2,000 respondents from each market.

Mr Alan Shields, managing director of advisory for RFi, yesterday said people are more likely to try and use contactless payment for weekly purchases such as groceries first, rather than for daily purchases that tend to be of low value.

Consumers often prefer cash because it can be used as a budgeting tool when one withdraws a fixed sum of money from the ATM for the entire week, for instance.

Mr Gerald Ferguson, general manager of RFi Group in Asia, told The Straits Times: "They feel like they may lose control of how much they're spending. But the reality is that through digital means, you've got a greater track of what you're spending.

"You can go online and it's updated real time, so you know how much you spent and where you actually spent it."

The study also found that OCBC Bank customers - 23 per cent of the respondents - were more willing to try new types of payments. DBS Bank and United Overseas Bank customers - they comprised 20 per cent of respondents for each bank - found digital wallets appealing.

Mr Ferguson said: "DBS is doing a lot more in the digital space. All banks are focusing on the digital space, not just in Singapore but regionally.

"It's a great way for DBS to grow their market share outside of Singapore, that's why digital is a big part for them, with the opportunities it has with a much larger customer base."