Do more to help vulnerable groups cope with advances in banking

Digitalisation, especially artificial intelligence (AI), risks marginalising vulnerable groups of people who do not have bank accounts or smart devices.
Digitalisation, especially artificial intelligence (AI), risks marginalising vulnerable groups of people who do not have bank accounts or smart devices. PHOTO: ST FILE

During the National School Savings Campaign in the 1960s, there were many who did not have the means to take part even in that rudimentary initiative, aimed at getting people to cultivate a habit of saving by putting aside a few cents in the form of stamps.

The challenges during the nation-building years were mostly physiological, with the main focus on sanitation, health and education.

But we never moved on totally as one people. Some groups were always left behind, either through poverty or exclusion.

Singapore's survival, indeed its very existence, depends on moving forward with the times. Yet many vulnerable groups continue to miss the boat.

Digitalisation, especially artificial intelligence (AI), will further marginalise these vulnerable groups.

There seems to be no record of how many Singaporeans today do not even have bank accounts or smart devices. I suspect this number isn't small.

AI is already changing the way we do banking. What will happen to those who do not have bank accounts?

I would like to see much more being done to pull these vulnerable groups out from the quagmire of helplessness and exclusion.

Joseph Wong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 03, 2019, with the headline 'Do more to help vulnerable groups cope with advances in banking'. Print Edition | Subscribe