Days of old-school money changers may be numbered

Many are struggling to survive as rents, labour costs go up and high-tech rivals offer more value

Mr V.S. Tajdeen, whose family runs Aliffan Agency at Raffles Place, says he would have made a profit of $1 to $2 for every RM100 he sold 10 years ago. But now, when he sells RM1,000 (S$330), he makes just $1 - if he's lucky. Aliffan is looking for wa
Mr V.S. Tajdeen, whose family runs Aliffan Agency at Raffles Place, says he would have made a profit of $1 to $2 for every RM100 he sold 10 years ago. But now, when he sells RM1,000 (S$330), he makes just $1 - if he's lucky. Aliffan is looking for ways to use fintech, maybe by publishing rates online. The company cannot just sit there and survive on conversion charges, says Mr Tajdeen.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE KIAT
Mr Alstone Tee (left) and Mr Tan Jin of local fintech start-up Thin Margin. Firms like theirs have a much wider reach.
Mr Alstone Tee (left) and Mr Tan Jin of local fintech start-up Thin Margin. Firms like theirs have a much wider reach.ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

Money changers shuffling stacks of notes in their kiosks are a common sight around town. But their days are increasingly fraught with uncertainty as high-tech rivals muscle in on their turf.

"It's a losing fight," said Mr Barakath Ali, first vice-president of the Money Changers Association (Singapore).

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 22, 2019, with the headline 'Traditional money changers count the days as fintech players move in'. Subscribe