The government seems pretty determined to turn Singapore into a cashless society, and has announced that the public transport system will go fully cashless by 2020… which is less than three years away, and probably less time than it’ll take your BTO flat to get built.
While all of us wish they would concentrate on making the public transport system more reliable rather than cashless, the higher ups have spoken.
Here is what Singaporeans need to do to prepare themselves for the increasing drive towards making cashless payments the norm in Singapore.
Make sure your phone is always charged and that you have a power bank
Mobile phone payment options are growing in Singapore, and we can now use our phones to tap out at the MRT gantries or pay for purchases at certain retailers.
While that might seem incredibly convenient—after all, nobody leaves home without their mobile phone—it also means you’re screwed if your phone runs out of battery.
Battery life is likely to become a more important factor to consider when choosing a new mobile phone, and power bank sales will probably go through the roof.
Download the right apps
The public transport system is already more “cashless” than the government knows. After all, the only way you can get away after an MRT breakdown is to order a Grab or Uber on your smartphone.
Moving forward, the versatility of your smartphone as a payment tool depends on which mobile applications you have.
Max out your rewards
You can’t be rewarded for paying in cash, but you sure can for using cashless payment methods. So do your research and max out your rewards for paying cashlessly.
For instance, whenever you’re using credit cards to pay for stuff, you should know exactly which card to use in what situation. Link them to your payment apps if you’ll be paying by mobile phone.
So, when you’re out shopping, you want to use a credit card that will reward you for retail purchases such as the Citi Rewards Card, which offers a very generous 10 rewards points or 4 miles when you shop for shoes, bags and clothes at online, retail or department stores.
You should also have a card for dining out like HSBC’s Revolution Card which offers 5x rewards points on all dining spend.
Better yet, get a card that rewards you on cashless payments, such as UOB’s Preferred Platinum Visa Card, which offers 10x rewards points for cashless transactions.
If rewards points aren’t your thing, you can also consider the DBS Live Fresh Card, which gives you 5% cashback on Visa payWave transactions. New sign-ups within 8 Jan to 31 Mar 2018 are entitled to an additional 5% cashback for the first 6 months, giving you up to 10% cashback. Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay are considered as Visa payWave transactions. Simply spend a minimum of S$600 in a calendar month to receive up to S$60 cashback.
You also want to know which payment methods entitle you to rewards and discounts at a particular retailer. For instance, many shops and F&B establishments offer discounts for users of certain credit cards or payment methods like FlashPay or a particular QR payment mobile app.
Make sure your prepaid cards are topped up
While the cashless revolution is almost certainly going to privilege mobile phone payments, prepaid cards such as Ezlink are probably here to stay for quite some time, especially for older folks who may not be smartphone savvy.
Parents who worry about their kids overspending may also favour debit cards or prepaid cards.
To avoid that sinking feeling you get whenever you wave your EZ-Link card at the MRT gantries only to receive that dreaded alert indicating your card is out of funds, make sure your prepaid cards are topped up before you leave home.
Luckily, it’s also likely online top-up methods are going to become more common, hopefully rendering waiting in top-up machine or ATM queues a thing of the past.
Have more than one payment option on you at all times
No matter how convenient cashless payment might sound, technology will certainly fail us some of the time. So always make sure you have access to one or two alternative payment options at all times.
That means that while you might soon be able to get away with going out with nothing but your mobile phone in your pocket some of the time, you should not make it a habit.
So always have a backup plan on hand—your credit cards, your EZ-Link card and… maybe, just maybe, some cold hard cash.
Do you prefer to make cash or cashless payments? Tell us in the comments!