SINGAPORE - About a third of Singapore's 18,000 stallholders in markets and hawker centres have gone digital with e-payments as of July, with nearly 2,000 coming on board over the past two months to bring the total to 5,400.
The increase was spurred by broad digitalisation efforts under the Government's Hawkers Go Digital scheme that was launched in June and aims to help all 18,000 stallholders adopt the unified Singapore Quick Response Code (SGQR) e-payment solution by mid-2021.
The 1,900 new sign-ups add on to an existing 3,500 stallholders who are already using the e-payment solution, which was rolled out in June last year.
Speaking to the media at the Lorong 8 Toa Payoh Hawker Centre on Wednesday (Aug 12), Communications and Information Minister S. Iswaran said the increased adoption of e-payments was encouraging and part of a larger mindset shift towards digitalisation.
"I think one aspect is the transactional efficiencies (that hawkers enjoy) with adopting e-payments," said Mr Iswaran.
"(But) it's also about starting us on the digitalisation process, a mindset switch. So if we're able to adopt digital solutions for something as basic as e-payments, then I think we can build on that."
Hawkers who sign up for SGQR under Hawkers Go Digital are eligible for a bonus of $300 per month over any five months in the next year if they have at least 20 cashless transactions in each of these five months.
More than 2,000 stallholders have received the bonus to date, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) said.
Hawker Hu Xiu Zhen, 50, who owns and runs Yong Xing Economic Bee Hoon in Lorong 8 Toa Payoh Hawker Centre, recorded 257 cashless transactions in July.
Madam Hu, who adopted the SGQR payment solution last August, said cashless transactions at her stall have risen to about four a day currently from one every few days last year.
"It's more convenient for us because we don't need to get change when people buy from us.
"We haven't really run into any (teething problems) also because those who use the solution are all familiar with it," she said.
Madam Jorene Chua, 55, who runs 888 Tau Kwa in the neighbouring market, said some of her regulars have become so familiar with the cashless solution that they often complete the payment before she has prepared their items.
"Customers who use cash are still in the majority but there has been a definite increase in the past few months, mostly among younger people," she said.
The Government has ramped up efforts this year to promote digitalisation in response to widespread economic and social disruption brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Singapore Digital Office (SDO) was set up in May under the IMDA to spearhead these efforts, which include the Seniors Go Digital and Hawkers Go Digital movements.
Digital ambassadors under the SDO have reached out to a total of 15,900 stallholders in the past two months.