Making the cashless system work

The Government has been pushing electronic transactions aggressively. However, are we truly ready for this? (Is the cashless jigsaw complete?; Sept 20).

We are constantly reminded of the virtues of going cashless: No need to carry money, going paperless is good for the environment and vendors save money.

The Government has been extolling the virtues of the system despite concerns by the public, especially of the elderly who may not be able to cope with or even carry smartphones. There are often no cash options.

The recent disruptions to our electric supply have also given more cause for worry. There is no clear standard procedures for coping with such emergencies. Vendors are not helpful when duplicate transactions take place. Users are left without options if they leave home without cash. They are left hungry and embarrassed.

The manner in which errors in the electronic medical system were handled by the Integrated Health Information Systems was also not satisfactory.

For a truly cashless electronic system to be adopted, it has to be robust, safe and easy to use as well as catered to the lowest common denominator and the least capable user.

There should also not be an air of invincibility, and the remedial measures to deal with breakdowns must be clear and kick in immediately.

No matter how much money can be saved or how efficient electronic systems can be, there will always be hiccups.

The customer does not want to know why it happened when he is left cashless and hungry. He just wants to get his meal or his plane tickets.

Customer service is paramount and a smooth experience will ultimately determine if the cashless system will truly work and be beneficial to the man in the street.

Peter Loon Seng Chee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 25, 2018, with the headline 'Making the cashless system work'. Print Edition | Subscribe