Hawkers should adopt cashless payments without fear: Iswaran

A digital ambassador speaking with a stallholder at Bedok Food Centre and Market on Sunday. By the end of this month, 1,000 such ambassadors will have been recruited to help stallholders learn how to use digital tools.
A digital ambassador speaking with a stallholder at Bedok Food Centre and Market on Sunday. By the end of this month, 1,000 such ambassadors will have been recruited to help stallholders learn how to use digital tools.PHOTO: IMDA

Singapore's hawkers and wet market stallholders should embrace digitalisation in the form of cashless payments without fear, as they will receive support from the Government each step of the way.

This was the message reiterated by Communications and Information Minister S. Iswaran in a webinar with about 70 stallholders held via video-conferencing platform Zoom yesterday.

"Don't be afraid. As long as you decide 'I want to change' and do this, we will be there to help you," he said of them adopting cashless payments.

"If we can all come on to this, it will make a big difference in terms of the business you can do in the market and the hawker centre. Not just now, but also after all the circuit breaker measures are lifted and we open up."

Mr Iswaran had announced broad digitalisation outreach efforts last month that come under the newly formed SG Digital Office.

These include the Hawkers Go Digital initiative, which aims to help over 18,000 stallholders in hawker centres and wet markets adopt the unified Singapore Quick Response Code (SGQR) e-payments solution by the middle of next year.

Hawkers who sign up for SGQR under Hawkers Go Digital are eligible for a bonus of $300 a month over any five months in the next year if they have at least 20 cashless transactions in each of those five months.

SGQR lets stallholders receive payments through 19 different providers, including PayLah, Dash and GrabPay.

During yesterday's session, Mr Iswaran and representatives from the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) also fielded questions from hawkers who wanted to find out about the impact of going cashless in their day-to-day business operations.

Mr Bobby Chong, 55, who sells chicken rice at West Coast Market Square, wanted to know if there are any long-term costs from adopting SGQR, and also how quickly transactions made will be deposited into stallholders' bank accounts.

He was told that no fees will be incurred until December 2023.

All transactions before 5pm will be received in bank accounts by 9pm of the same day, while those after 5pm will go through by 9am the next day.

Other hawkers were concerned that they would struggle with the use of digital platforms.

They were informed that 1,000 digital ambassadors who will help them learn how to use digital tools will be recruited by the end of this month. Recruited ambassadors, who are dressed in purple, began their outreach efforts in markets and hawker centres earlier this month, and have been to 45 out of Singapore's 112 hawker centres and wet markets as of Wednesday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 12, 2020, with the headline 'Hawkers should adopt cashless payments without fear: Iswaran'. Subscribe