Don't be so quick to go cashless

I support Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam's call for civil servants to think from the perspective of consumers when framing and executing policies ("'See issues through eyes of ordinary citizens'"; Oct 28).

An incident happened to me a few days ago that illustrates this point.

I had lost my card wallet containing my driver's licence, ATM card and ez-link card, among other cards.

Fortunately, I still had my identity card and was able to go to the Traffic Police headquarters to make a report and apply for a replacement card.

Service was smooth and courteous. But when it came to the payment, the counter officer would accept neither credit card nor cash. Payment could be made only with an ATM card or a CashCard.

Since I had lost those cards, I was left in the lurch.

The officer then suggested that I pay the next person in the queue $25 in cash so he could use his card to pay for me.

It turned out that I was not the only person who had this problem.

I know that there is a drive towards a cashless society, and that it might be deemed inefficient, cumbersome or costly to allow cash transactions at official counters.

But going cashless takes time. Why is there such haste in implementing this?

What about the consumers? I am sure there are still many citizens, especially older ones, who do not have credit cards or CashCards. Surely, they deserve some consideration too.

I hope the civil service will heed Mr Tharman's call.

Chan Kar Heng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 09, 2015, with the headline 'Don't be so quick to go cashless'. Print Edition | Subscribe