Consider differentiated GSTs as incentive for going cashless

I wonder if we could consider charging differentiated goods and services taxes (GSTs) for the lower-income and the elderly as an incentive for going cashless.

As Singapore tries to play catch-up with China in going cashless, I feel that there must either be strong pain points or incentives for cashless payments to get wide acceptance among the people in Singapore, as opposed to a top-down approach.

I recall when I paid a Shanghai cab driver in cash many years ago -he scrutinised every note to make sure each was genuine.

There was an obvious lack of trust in the physical cash - a pain point.

The quantum growth in e-commerce in China provided further incentives for going cashless.

However, there is a strong inertia over going cashless in Singapore.

Counterfeit notes are not a big problem here, cash payment is working well, and there are even machines that automatically dispense change.

Many seniors are also not savvy with technology.

If differentiated GSTs for the lower-income and the elderly were to be charged when using cashless payment technologies, these groups will be incentivised to adopt digital payments.

Businesses, too, will become e-payment-ready so as not to lose out in addressing these groups of consumers.

Ho Tong Fatt

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 06, 2018, with the headline 'Consider differentiated GSTs as incentive for going cashless'. Print Edition | Subscribe