Notes from a really tiny island

Cashless and Contactless in Singapore

I’m not too sure why but it seems like going cashless seems to be the buzzword in Singapore recently (did I miss something big?). I am a fan of convenience and avoiding human contact in general (what? WHAT? Humanpeoples are scary!) so contactless/cashless payments are YESSS. The thing is, while NETS (local debit e-payment service) and EZ-Link (contactless fare payment) are widely accepted and used here, other forms of cashless payments are a hit or miss. One of the biggest hurdles — food courts, which is kind of a big deal for me.

I’ve been quite unwell this year and have stopped cooking for now. This means that if I were to depend on cashless payments alone I will have to resort to eating eat salads from the supermarket or microwavable meals from 7-Eleven or even starve (so dramatic). Or I could get my family to cook for me. Or order online. Wait, what’s my point? Ha ha. Okay, back to going cashless in SG, of more appropriately in the Heartlands of Singapore.

A round-up of payments – cashless or otherwise — that happened this week.

7-Eleven. PayWave (card). It’s a habit for me to pay using my Visa card here.

Topping up of EZ-Link* value at the TransitLink Add Value Machine. Samsung Pay. Took 2 attempts, not sure why it didn’t work the first time. Note: this is the first time I’m trying out Samsung Pay.

I also use Singtel’s Transit NFC SIM to pay for my bus and MRT rides. If your phone is NFC-enabled, you can switch to an NFC SIM for a one-time payment of about $38. Right now, topping up the NFC SIM using the Singtel DASH wallet is a bit of a pain cos you’re using a web-based-ish interface to input your credit card/debit card info on your mobile phone. I don’t have any experience with M1 Mobile Wallet, StarHub SmarWallet or the EZ-Link app (which is surprisingly lowly rated on Play Store).

Starbucks. Samsung Pay. Super quick. For some reason saying “Samsung Pay” is more of a mouthful than PayWave, Apple Pay or PayPass.

Starbucks Pike Place Roast, picture for illustration. I actually bought my go-to Origami™ Personal Drip Coffee, in Pike Place, of course. BTW, the home pic, also Starbucks. I also have the Starbucks Nespresso pods, which seems to be only available in the UK. Why?

Venus Beauty. Cashless (can’t remember which, maybe Apple Pay).

Uniqlo. Samsung Pay. When I flashed my phone the humanpaydeskperson asked, “PayPass?” and I said, “I am using Visa on Samsung Pay”. THIS IS GETTING MORE THAN A MOUTHFUL. I’m not sure if the different terms matters?

McDonalds. Apple Pay. The usual, no biggie.

Metro. Samsung Pay. I just said, “PayWave” with a put-on nonchalance. PROGRESS!

A boba tea chain. Cash only. *sadface* and running out of cash too at this point.

Taxi: Paylah (for snots and giggles). Driver admitted he has never used the machine before and ask if we could guide him. Good job, driver, for trying. Process was quick and painless for both of us. At this point I don’t really know why I need Paylah. Before this, I’ve only transferred $1 to my husband and asked him to transfer the dollar back just for fun. Maybe it makes more sense for people who interact with other people on a regular basis (not me).

Giant supermarket. Samsung Pay. No problem.

McDonalds (again). Samsung Pay. Ok.

At my regular hair salon. NETS with PIN. I saw a NETS FlashPay terminal and wanted to use it to pay for my haircut but the haircutperson said “cannot use” because of… reasons. Actually he said the shop tried it a couple of times and it didn’t work so they stopped using it.

Small bubble tea shop. Cash only.

Library (forgotten late fee from whoknowswhen). NETS with PIN.

Small mom and pop toiletries shop. NETS with PIN.

Giant (again). NETS FlashPay. I told the petite Giantgirl, “FlashPay” when I meant Paywave, and decided to just go with it cos I had my NETS Passion Card out anyway.

7-Eleven. NETS FlashPay. Cos I was still holding my card after paying at Giant.

Swee Heng bakery. Samsung Pay. Did not expect this option to be available here but it was!

Prime supermarket. NETS with PIN. Tried using the FlashPay terminal but my NETS FlashPay transaction showed an error.

Food Courts in general. Cash only. How do we fix this? Do we even need to fix this? Can I imagine my septuagenarian mother and mother-in-law paying for food without using paper money and coins? Sure. Both these ladies are not afraid of technology and accept lifelong learning as a way of life. But what of other folks who don’t want to embrace new technology (due to fear or reluctance to learn) or those who simply can’t (because of illiteracy, lack of access or other reasons)? Food for thought.

For now, I have to contend with eating bamboo charcoal mooncakes from Swee Heng for sustenance. It’s only my fourth moon cake this week. I’ll survive.

NOTE: I’ve had a problem with fingerprint recognition systems since forever. I have to interact with a humanpassportcounterperson for immigration clearance every single time cos FINGERPRINTS NOT FOUND so Touch ID/fingerprint lock (looking forward to trying Face ID) is a non-inclusive technology for me. So far, the iris scanner on the Note 8 has a 100% success rate for me. #totallynotrobots

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