Cashless payment methods must cut out cash completely

I visited Yishun Park Hawker Centre, run by the Timbre Group, on Sept 30 and learnt that by paying with the Tuck Shop app, I would be entitled to a 10 per cent discount off all purchases.

After downloading the app and signing up for a Tuck Shop account, I was surprised to find that I had to top up my account using cash at the top-up machines.

I had thought that electronic top-up methods, like credit card top-ups, would be used.

Nevertheless, I joined the long queue at the top-up machines.

Since I had only $50 notes, I topped up $50.

But, as I did not anticipate making $50 worth of purchases, I wanted to get a refund of the balance.

There were no notices anywhere about the refund process, nor any information in the app that I could find. The Tuck Shop staff were also clueless and told me to e-mail Timbre to inquire.

I did so. The replies were prompt but disappointing.

I realised that not only did I have to incur a $2 admin fee for the refund, which was not made known to me at the time of topping up, but I would also have to travel all the way to the Tuck Shop office to get my refund.

Not particularly keen to make the trip, I provided details of all the available forms of electronic payment methods I have, including Internet banking, PayNow and PayPal, hoping that Timbre would be kind enough to save me the trip by electronically transferring the money. I have not heard from it yet.

I appeal to Timbre not to rush into launching a payment method which accepts only cash top-ups and refunds.

We are all excited about Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's cashless Smart Nation message at his National Day Rally and long to have truly cashless transactions like those in Shanghai.

Pseudo-cashless methods that insist on both cash top-ups and cash refunds are certainly huge stumbling blocks to this goal.

Alex Chai Wei Yep

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 07, 2017, with the headline 'Cashless payment methods must cut out cash completely'. Print Edition | Subscribe