Hawkers keen on going digital but worries remain

Communications and Information Minister S. Iswaran talking to Kashmir Sliced Fish Soup stall owner Manpal Singh, 45, who recently signed up to offer the SGQR e-payment option, at West Coast Market Place yesterday. With them were SG Digital Office amb
Communications and Information Minister S. Iswaran talking to Kashmir Sliced Fish Soup stall owner Manpal Singh, 45, who recently signed up to offer the SGQR e-payment option, at West Coast Market Place yesterday. With them were SG Digital Office ambassadors Nur Danish Azhar (far left), 19, and Victoria Faith Edward, 18. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

Many hawkers are keen to offer cashless payments, but some are concerned about having to pay suppliers in cash and the low take-up rate among customers, digital ambassadors said yesterday.

The ambassadors were recruited by the newly formed SG Digital Office under the Infocomm Media Development Authority.

So far, 400 of them have been recruited, up from 200 a week ago, said Communications and Information Minister S. Iswaran, after an engagement session at West Coast Market Square yesterday.

The ambassadors, who promote digitalisation among stallholders and seniors, have contacted more than half of the 112 hawker centres and wet markets here.

They have been introducing the Hawkers Go Digital initiative, which aims to help stallholders adopt the unified Singapore Quick Response Code (SGQR) e-payment solution by the middle of next year.

Mr Nur Danish Azhar, 19, a recent ITE College West graduate, noted that some hawkers say most of their customers are older and less likely to use e-payments. "We tell them that in the future, more customers will be from the younger generation."

Fellow ambassador Lo Wei Jian, 34, said that while some hawkers were hesitant at first, more become willing to adopt the SGQR after seeing other hawkers do so.

But some still have reservations.

Mr Lo, a former freelance graphic designer, noted: "A lot of them want to use cash to pay suppliers. I told them that it's a change of lifestyle, and they just have to draw money from the ATMs."

 
 
 

Recent ITE College West graduate and ambassador Victoria Faith Edward, 18, said: "For cheaper items stallholders at wet markets sell, like noodles for 50 cents, they said customers would prefer to give cash."

Mr Manpal Singh, 45, a hawker at West Coast Market Square selling fish soup, recently signed up to offer the SGQR option.

"Overall, I think it would be beneficial, as it would be easier to count the takings at the end of the day."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 18, 2020, with the headline 'Hawkers keen on going digital but worries remain'. Subscribe