The weak pull of Singapore's cashless push

The recent announcement of a single QR code system from Nets shows that we are taking the right steps towards becoming a cashless society (Single QR code system at hawker centres soon; Nov 21).

However, cash is likely to still be the preferred choice in Singapore.

Compared with countries like China, Singapore may be lagging behind in terms of adopting a cashless system.

However, the issue is not about Singapore being slow to adapt to new practices.

Singaporeans tend to use cash because they do not have to carry large amounts of it around - $50 is good for quite a few days of hawker centre food and some light shopping.

Using cash does not mean we are not a Smart Nation.

In fact, many seniors here are highly digitally literate, have Facebook accounts, surf the web and shop online.

Singaporeans tend to use cards for big-ticket items and leave small-scale transactions to cash, unlike in the United States, where even smaller transactions are completed with credit cards.

It is still much faster to pay in cash in Singapore than to wait for machines to process the payment.

The shift towards a cashless payment system in Singapore is not born of necessity, and that is why cash, as much as it seems like such an archaic option in the digital age, will likely still be widely used here.

Darrell Low Wen Wei

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 21, 2017, with the headline 'The weak pull of Singapore's cashless push'. Print Edition | Subscribe