Going cashless in phases will help elderly

The Land Transport Authority will phase in digital payment from next month before going fully cashless by 2020 (Some seniors worry about cashless top-ups; Aug 22).

This "progressive" plan reflects well on Singapore's development as a caring and inclusive society that aspires to become a Smart Nation. It will help the large number of seniors in our ageing population to adjust over time.

It is hoped that more organisations like retailers and food outlets, for example, will introduce cashless payment in phases to cater to these seniors.

Reasonable time should be given to them to adapt to and adopt such a system.

Using cash gives peace of mind to many. Understandably, some seniors are using cash only in their daily living and may find the digital disruption a real challenge.

With cash in hand, they are in full control of their hard-earned money. With the ATM card, its security is entrusted to the bank, which depends on its information communication technology system's integrity, robustness and security.

The seniors may fear that using digital payment would mean both they and their banks are losing control of the money to a third-party e-transaction facility.

How do seniors manage something that they do not see or understand? Trust alone may not be enough to allay their fear of the unknown.

Bearing in mind hackers and other cyber security issues that are being tackled by the Government and industry, the possibility of losing their money virtually in cyberspace remains a real concern for many people.

It would take a leap of faith, in technology and the e-system that is evolving, to accept such a risk in the current economic climate.

Younger people who grew up with computers and those using digital devices are more likely to be receptive to using an e-payment system, due to their familiarity with technological solutions.

For most people, however, they simply cannot afford to risk losing what little money they may have, particularly for retired seniors who are also less comfortable with disruptive technology and digital applications.

Joachim Sim Khim Huang