Unified cashless payment system rolled out at 500 hawker stalls across Singapore

The all-in-one e-payment terminals, which can read contactless and chip-based cards, and process QR code payments, are rented to hawkers for no charge for the first three years after they sign up with Nets. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
A hawker stall with the sticker displayed that shows it has adopted the unified e-payment solution at 628 Ang Mo Kio Ave 4. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - Many hawker patrons will now have an easier time paying for their dishes without fumbling with notes and coins, or figuring out which card they can use to make payments.

A project to bring cashless payments to Singapore's hawkers under a single unified system has completed its first phase.

An initial 22 coffee shops, 10 hawker centres and 12 industrial canteens have adopted the e-payment solution as of Saturday (June 29).

The solution, provided for by Nets, unifies payments from 23 providers, so dining customers can use different cashless payment options at a single payment terminal at a food outlet.

This also saves hawkers the hassle of dealing with multiple e-payment firms. These include e-wallets like Singtel Dash and GrabPay, transport cards EZ-Link and Nets FlashPay, and credit cards such as Visa and Mastercard.

Over 500 stalls are now enabled for unified e-payment, out of the 12,000 such stalls across Singapore. A list of these stalls can be found at epaysg.com

Enterprise Singapore, the National Environment Agency (NEA), the Housing Board and JTC Corporation appointed Nets to deploy the solution in September last year.

Speaking to the media on Saturday at a hawker centre in Ang Mo Kio where the e-payment system has been deployed, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing, said the system makes things convenient for both customers and hawkers.

"For customers, they no longer have to bring cash around. Even foreign customers, if they don't have local currency, can use different forms of e-payment," he said.

"For the stall holders, they don't have to switch between food preperation and money collection. So that makes things cleaner and more hassle-free. I think they also like that they don't have to spend time after a hard days work to account for the cash."

Mr Lim Kian Tiong, 52, owner of Ho-Bee Roasted Food at Block 628, Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4, has been using the system since December last year.

"It's very convenient as it helps to consolidate a lot of the payments. At the end of the day I can just check the app on my phone to see how much I've earned rather than taking the time to count money."

The number of cashless transactions at stalls offering the unified solution rose by nearly 30 per cent per month between last December and May this year, Enterprise Singapore said.

The all-in-one e-payment terminals, which can read contactless and chip-based cards, and process QR code payments, are rented to hawkers for no charge for the first three years after they sign up with Nets.

Transaction fees of 0.5 per cent will be borne by the Government during this period. Stalls have until August 2020 to apply for the fee waivers.

Hawkers are among the last bastions of cash payment in the local retail scene. About 40 per cent of dining in Singapore take place at coffee shops, hawker centres or canteens, according to the Monetary Authority of Singapore, with 70 per cent of transactions done using cash.

Enterprise Singapore and Nets have set a target of rolling out the solution to 200 coffee shops, 25 hawker centres and 20 industrial canteens by September 2020.

"Adoption of e-payment is a first step towards the digital transformation of small food businesses in our heartlands and industrial estates," said Enterprise Singapore deputy chief executive officer Ted Tan.

"In the last six months, we have seen more consumers using e-payment for their transactions. This is indeed encouraging and we are expanding it to include schemes that weren't part of the earlier announcement, like Diners Club, Razer Pay and VIA, by October."

Housewife Kee Siew Lian, 48, who lives near the hawker centre at Block 628, Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4, said she likes that she no longer has to bring her wallet with her when she dines at the hawker centre.

"I only need my phone to be able to pay for all the food for my family. It's really quick and I like that I don't have to take out my wallet and look for the cash."

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.