Cashless Payments in Singapore
I’ve never been one who tries new tech as an early adopter. Instead, preferring to let the first gen tech be tested by the enthusiasts before joining the early majority once it works. My friends say I’m just being damn uncle, but as efficiency and reliability is important, I prefer waiting it out while keeping a close watch on developments.
Mobile cashless payments isn’t exactly a new thing. I mean look at China, you can literally purchase anything with your smartphone. Even from the street food vendor! In Singapore, while adoption is slower, it has been many years in the making. From faster contactless payments to seamless mobile transfers, it seemed a matter of time before things become commonplace.
When DBS Paylah! first came out a couple of years ago as an easy way to transfer funds, I never really used it. I mean why the need to top up a secondary account to make transfers and pay for stuff when I can easily do it with ibanking or a credit card right. It’s almost like having another ezlink card. A few of my friends jumped on it, but as usual I was slow. But as tech innovations like TouchID and usability made it more convenient, I slowly softened up, though there was still no real push to using it regularly.
So the first real push really only happened recently when DBS Paylah! launched their Hawker Food Trail campaign, offering a $50 credit to “influencers” (this term is seriously overused) to use Paylah! at hawker centers and talk about it. Being the uncle that I am, of course I signed up for it. I mean it’s free food! Also now that we have a proper office for The Travel Intern, I have less excuse to stay at home and cook nonsense. Since I’m going to be out eating anyway, might as well try it.
Here’s a video of the campaign they launched recently.
The Hawker Experience @ Alexandra Food Centre
To be honest, it was a little strange at first paying with your mobile phone at a hawker centre. Thankfully, it was surprisingly fuss-free. The current 3-step process ‘Scan to Pay‘ process, while can still be simplified, works pretty well. All we had to do was to…
- Scan the hawker stall’s QR code
- Key in the total cost of food
- Show the stall owner the transaction screen
There are currently only a handful of stalls at Alexandra Food Centre adopting this, though I’ve read that DBS Paylah! is accepted at more than 250 hawker stalls around Singapore. DBS Paylah! aside, there are more hawker stalls accepting such cashless payments. ABC market which is closer to the office has QR codes at every stall!
To test out the experience, I spent a couple of days in the week trying food at different stalls.
Alexandra Food Centre Shanghai La Mian Xiao Long Bao – one of the best Xiao Long Bao’s I’ve eaten. Much better than DTF!
Lye Bo Roast – Pretty good roast meat with super friendly vendors
QR code identified the stall very quickly even when I was trying to disrupt it while taking this screenshot
Even more surprising though, is that most of the hawker vendors I spoke to were quite comfortable with this. One uncle even suggested that I try the other apps for cashless payment as well because of a discount. I originally thought that there would be a lot of resistance converting them, but I guess the benefits and convenience outweighed that.
While I doubt cash will go away, it’s interesting to see more mom-and-pop shops picking this up. There’s still awhile before this becomes a norm, but I’m looking forward to leaving my wallet at home in the near future!