(In this post, we will be talking about the possibility of Singapore becoming a truly cashless society.) With increase usage of contactless payment, including credit and debit cards, mobile payment modes have also become the norm in Singapore. From Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Android Pay to DBS Paylah, these methods seemed to have become the preferred mode of payment in Singapore, decreasing the need for the citizens to carry cash.

Beyond the convenience of not having to carry around a physical wallet or having to wait around for change, going cashless reduces the risk of theft. Businesses can also track their sales through electronic transactions and computerized data easily. This increases business efficiency, reducing the need for manual calculations.

In Singapore, the main objective of going cashless is to lower transaction costs for all businesses and for citizens who are purchasing goods and services, enhancing competition and participation in the Singapore economy. This expands opportunities, especially for the small businesses.

Recently, consumers can also secure peer-to-peer direct funds transfer across local banks, simply by using recipient’s mobile number, commonly known as Paynow. The PayNow service available on existing mobile banking applications and online banking systems of participating banks offers consumers a more efficient way for transactions. Beyond Paynow, the government will be implement SGQR, a unified QR payment code, and a unified point-of-sales terminal to continue to streamline the e-payment landscape in Singapore. Also, the NETS and EZ-link’s tie up has allowed consumers to pay at hawker centres using their NETS or EZ-link card through a single nets terminal.

Going Cashless also has the added benefit of helping regulators keep track of how the money is moved, which opens up possibilities of money laundering and fraud, increasing transparency of financial records. Real data about the way we actually spend our money can be harnessed to help the government better devise and implement policies based on actual data also, rather than costly and periodic surveys and sampling of real-world transactions.

However, concerns about going cashless include the loss of privacy for the average citizen. Unlike cash, digital transactions are permanently recorded. Therefore, user data can be obtained through any organization. The data can be then used to manipulate purchase decisions, resulting in a phenomenon called consumerism.

Also, not having physical bills in our wallets may also cause us to spend excessively. Often, Singaporeans spend more than what they are earning, and they end up having to borrow to finance their expenses. This makes it very financially draining in the long run.

In conclusion, although cashless payments offer day-to-day convenience, there is a major tradeoff of privacy and personal financial independence. However, Singapore seems to be doing well in it and cashless payments seem the way to go from now on.

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