Adapting to cashless society needs time

Cash is no longer king, I found out recently at a foodcourt while overseas.

There, patrons were expected to pay via one of the various cashless payment platforms that made even credit cards passe. The transactions were all paperless.

But what is the greatest value proposition in going cashless? It is convenience (Put people first in cashless push; Aug 16).

One no longer needs to carry physical cash or credit/debit cards for one's exchanges.

It greatly reduces the risk of loss through theft or mishandling.

Cash and cards are hard to recover and open to misuse, but with a cashless system, putting a stop to misuse may be a phone call away or prevented by pre-set quantum limits.

We can pay to the last decimal cent and save us the trouble of carrying cumbersome coins.

We can move seamlessly through different transactional situations, such as transport and grocery shopping, all day with just our mobile phone in hand.

It transcends physical boundaries and limitations. We no longer need to exchange foreign currencies for our travel. We need not wait in line at an ATM only to discover that it has run out of cash.

In fact, the possibilities of what cashless could mean for us are limitless.

We could even harness technology to displace mobile phones for making payments someday, perhaps by leveraging our identifiable and non-replicable features.

While we debate the merits of a cashless system nationwide, we must bear in mind that there will always be slow adopters to new technologies in our midst.

There will always be a transition period before we overcome the initial mistrust and accept it as a way of life.

Managing the transitional process is key to successful implementation.

But once we get over the initial adoption phase, many will surely ask: What took us so long to go cashless?

Lee Teck Chuan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2017, with the headline 'Adapting to cashless society needs time'. Print Edition | Subscribe