In this year’s National Day message, PM Lee pushed for Singapore to become a cashless society, in line with the government’s Smart Nation ambitions.
You’d have thought he’d called for NS to be extended to three years judging by the backlash this has received online.
Countless articles have been published online about how going completely cashless is going to be very tough given how uncompetitive banks are, or that old people are going to have a hard time adapting, etc.
While we shouldn’t kid ourselves by pretending there aren’t going to be problems, there are some benefits that Singaporeans can enjoy in a truly cashless society, such as the following two:
If all payments are made digitally, that basically means that records are being made of every single transaction.
This possibility has of course given rise to conspiracy theories about Big Brother knowing our every move.
But beyond the dystopian overtones, digital tracking actually makes it a lot easier for Singaporeans to manage their money, track their spending and budget.
Cash spending goes unrecorded, so if you’re tracking your spending using an app that will mean you’ll have to manually enter all your cash purchases. When everything is digital, that’s one less inconvenience you’ll have to deal with. Budgeting apps can simply be synced with bank accounts.
We can already see this happening with OCBC’s Money In$ights, which can be accessed through their mobile app or online.
Users can not only track their spending but also set budgets in various spending categories and get alerts through SMS when they’re close to exceeding the budget. As Singapore gets closer to its goal of cashlessness, this app will be more and more useful.
Carrying large wads of cash around not only makes it easier for you to become a victim of theft, it also makes your pockets bulge and ruins the look of those new pants. And everyone’s faced those moments when they’re rummaging through their wallets searching desperately for a coin as everyone behind them in the queue stares them down.
Not having to use cash eliminates all these inconveniences. Losing your wallet will no longer also mean losing all your cash.
While protecting one’s money digitally will become more and more important as cashless payment in Singapore becomes more common, it’s not like we don’t already have to deal with that now.
For older folks who aren’t smartphone whizzes and don’t like the idea of having to use their phones to pay for stuff, expanding the capabilities of EZ-Link cards might be another option, since most elderly people already have one.
Completing our transactions cashlessly is going to save everyone a lot of time. Cash transactions generally take a longer time than cashless ones, since cashiers/hawkers/taxi drivers have to waste time counting your money and giving you change.
Singaporeans not only get to save time each time they pay for something, but will also enjoy the benefit of shorter queues and shorter waiting times, since other people will no longer be wasting time with their infuriating insistence on paying using only 5 cent coins.
There are clear benefits to going cashless. Let’s hope Singaporeans will be equipped to make the most of them.
Are you looking forward to the day Singapore becomes a cashless society? Tell us or why not in the comments!