Self before service | The Online Citizen

15Aug10

Wonder if this Richard Seah is the former journalist. Whatever, he’s completely right that the purpose of cashless transactions is to screw the consumer.

Self before service | The Online Citizen.

Many years ago, my sister ran a hawker stall and I once accompanied her to renew her hawker licence. As you know, most government departments have long stopped handling cash. And it so happened that day that the NETS payment system was down. But can any government department exercise flexibility? Sorry. No cash. Wait.

Fortunately, the system was up and running again after about half an hour, so it wasn’t too bad. While waiting, I asked the officer what if the system was down for a long time. “Pay by cheque,” he replied matter-of-factly, as if the average hawker carries a cheque book.

Cashless payments remind me of the National Library. Ah! Finally they got the system sorted out and users can now pay their overdue fines using a choice of cards: NETS, Cashcard, Transit Link, etc. But boy did they take a long time. I remember for a good many years, it used to be Cashcard or nothing. I remember once walking a great distance to buy a Cashcard, for $10 or whatever sum, I forgot, just to pay a few cents worth of fines. (I had the option of paying later, but heck, I wanted to get it done with.) And then, as a step improvement, some library branches accepted more types of cards than others. If I am not wrong, it took more than 10 years from the introduction of cashless payment to reach today’s standard of convenience and service.

It may seem that I am harping on the distant past. But I bring this up to show how deeply rooted this attitude is. The government’s insistence on cashless transactions long ago set the precedence of putting the service provider’s convenience ahead of the user’s.

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