The world at large is moving more towards being a society that does not use cash. Some countries are more advanced in this endeavor than others, but all are moving in that direction. There are several advantages cited that make this an ideal situation.
1. Low crime rate: People getting mugged for their cash will stop being an issue since people will not have any currency on them. Illegal trade that relies on cash will also be reduced, e.g. the drug trade.
There will be a paper trail which will curb issues like money laundering and tax evasion.
2. Save on cash management: Currently, the government spends money to print currency and has to keep replenishing the same. Additionally, businesses have to figure out how to safely manage cash. If the business handles a lot of cash every day, it must be kept safe, and this increases costs.
3. International purchases will be made easy: Since there will be no need for Forex exchange, people can carry out international cashless transactions with a lot of ease.
Singapore is currently right behind the forerunners of cashless nations. Over the last few years, cashless payment and e-payments have been introduced and are being used widely across the island. In fact, some of Singapore’s MRT stations will not take cash for the transport cards. Here are some of the major payment systems that are facilitating cashless payments in Singapore:
1. Quick response codes – Commonly referred to as QR codes, these codes are machine readable. Payment intermediaries and banks allow users to pay bills as well as make purchases using them. The codes are simply scanned using a mobile phone and the payment is then processed. This cashless method has taken off very well in hawker centers after a slow start. Now merchants are able to get money from the various international, regional, and local payment systems.
2. PayNow – This system foregoes the use of bank account numbers and instead requires one to type in a mobile phone number or the ID card number of the recipient on a banking app. This initiative is the brainchild of 7 different banks working together to make money transfer easy. The banks in question are United Overseas Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, OCBC, Maybank, HSBC, Citibank and DBS/POSB. In order to use this payment method, one must have an account with one of the aforementioned banks. This method has taken off very well and is currently one of the more popular ones. It is among the most flexible and fastest payment methods in Singapore.
3. DBS PayLah! – This one is actually owned by DBS Bank. It enables users to get cashback from various merchants who have been pre-selected by the bank. Additionally, one can use this payment method to pay for City Cab or Comfort Cabs, and to make purchases in a variety of selected hawker centers. Payment requests on PayLah! can be made using a payment link, QR code, or even one’s mobile number. Since one’s account is linked to PayLah!, it is possible to transfer funds from their account to top up PayLah!. Additionally, one can easily send cash to another PayLah! user. Students at the National University of Singapore can enjoy discounts when they purchase food and pay for it with PayLah!
4. Contactless mobile payments – These are among the most popular in Singapore simply because they tend to be supported by a majority of payment stations. If one has their phone with them, they don’t have to worry about cards and coins, or a heavy wallet. To get this working, one needs to download the mobile app, type in the required card details, and by waving their phone over the contactless terminal, they can make their payment. This payment method is praised for its security, speed, and convenience. The cards making waves with this payment method include VISA PayWave and MasterCard PayPass.
5. Mobile Apps – One is able to download payment applications on their mobile phone that include Samsung Pay, Android Pay, and Apple Pay and still carry out cashless transactions in Singapore. Once again, it is necessary to link one’s credit card to whichever application one is using. Just like with the contactless credit cards, one will need to tap the phone over a payment device in order to make a payment.
6. Pay Anyone – This one has been launched by OCBC. This is a mobile app that can be used to pay for taxi rides and meals. One can also use it to pay for shopping by scanning the various NETS QR codes. In addition, one can receive and send cash on OCBC Pay Anyone. In fact, all that is needed to carry out a cash transfer is the other person’s mobile number, Facebook ID, or email address. The app is linked to one’s bank account with are OCBC and the funds credited or debited in the account. However, as long one is PayNow registered, they can receive money from the Pay Anyone app.
7. AliPay – This payment method originated in China. It is an app that is used to scan QR codes in order to make payments. The company’s strategy is to target the over 3 million tourists that visit Singapore every year. They have therefore positioned themselves strategically for this. Currently, a deal has been signed with ComfortDelGro that made it possible to use AliPay in more than 17,000 taxis that are managed by their partner. One must be having a credit card issued by a Chinese bank, or an account with a Chinese bank to operate AliPay.
8. NETS FlashPay – The precursor to this card was the NETS CashCard, which was not very popular for making retail purchases but dominated Electronic Road Pricing (ERPS) and car park payment. Nets FlashPay was introduced in the year 2009 to close the gap so that the card can be used for retail purchases as well.
9. EZ-Link Card – This card was issued through EZ Link by Singapore’s Land Transport Authority. EZ Link is actually a subsidiary of the authority. When it comes to public transport in Singapore, this is the most popular card. It is used for daily commute but there are stores like KOI Café that accept it when it comes to making payments. Even though it has a monopoly in public transport, its popularity has not crossed over into car park gantries where the Nets CashCard continues to rule.
As one can see, all of these cards have found their place within the Singaporean market. Some are doing well in the transport sector, others are doing better in retail purchases, yet others are great because one can transfer money from their bank accounts to loved ones using these payment methods. Even though some are doing better in niche areas, those that will lead the pack are those that will allow people to use them across the board.
Even though there are some people that prefer the old cash system, it is important to note that the world in general is moving towards a cashless society. Adopting to the system early is beneficial and one can begin to enjoy the many benefits of the same. These benefits go beyond not having to carry a heavy wallet or coin pass around. The speed, convenience, and security offered by cashless payment methods cannot be gainsaid.