Should singaporeans rejoice over cashless payments?
In a bid to catch up with China's cashless payments, PM Lee announced in his National Day Rally speech that Singapore will be moving to cashless payments. But is that really advantageous?
Like many Singaporeans who uber and grab, I do enjoy the flexibility and convenience of paying with my credit card, not having to fret whether I have small change to pay my cab driver whenever I reach my destination.
But, e-payments have also caused me a great amount of pain sometimes, especially when I have to get refunds or exchanges. It also increases the efficiency whenever I use my credit card to pay for groceries.
In the past, all I had to do was to hand some notes to the cashier, receive change and leave. Right now, I had to wait for them to process the payment, sign, wait for the receipts before I can leave with my bags. Yes, although PayWave has indeed reduced these waiting time, has embracing such technologies really benefited ALL of us?
What happens to people who do not own credit cards? Or smartphones?
How will these individuals be able to catch up? Or even purchase their daily necessities?
Will we be marginalising people with low-income? Or even the elderly? Even with the self-checkout machines plastered in many supermarkets, these groups of people would still have to spend their time waiting in long, snaking queues just to get a few items.
What will we be teaching our young?
Although cashless systems have helped to reduce the instances where money goes missing for our young, and allow parents to track the expenditure of their children, I remember learning to count when I had to pay for my recess in Primary One. I have also learnt that I will get back 70-cent change whenever I gave a dollar to the friendly tuckshop uncle. Finally, learning to save whatever's left in that day into my trusty piggy bank.
With smartwatches for children to go cashless in schools, how will they learn the virtues of saving?
I remember when I was in Disneyworld, Florida. Upon checking in, the friendly staff gave me a Magic Band which grants me access to all parks, my rooms, and even for me to pay all meals and any souvenirs throughout the resort. I was excited to go cashless and not having to carry my cards and cash around with me as I roamed the resort. However, the bill at the end of my stay was astounding! It had caused me to ignore checking the price tags on my food and purchases, allowing me to go past my daily budget. Will such programmes or initiatives also inculcate such behaviours?
Therefore, we really have to question whether the use of technology has brought about more benefits or more costs to ourselves and our society.
Updated on 29 August 2017: