March 5, 2021

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E-payment options for hawkers’ in Singapore to curtail fraud

Singapore Hawkers’ E-payments service provider is set to roll out new features to help hawkers fight fraud as more than half of all stallholders here accepts cashless payments, a more viable transaction during the age of COVID-19. More than 1.2 million e-payment transactions worth over SG $14 million were made last month, a fourfold increase from when the programme was first launched in June, said the Minister for Communications and Information, S. Iswaran.

The enhancements on the E-payments App used by hawkers and small retailers will include larger fonts, distinct payment alerts and colours to highlight new transactions. They are set to be rolled out progressively from next month and are meant to help hawkers track their transactions easily confirmed the minister.

According to the Minister, all of this is designed based on feedback from the stallholders to make it easier for them to recognise that a transaction has been recorded and executed, noting that fraud is present on all kinds of transaction platforms. He further added that the government and its partners must raise the education and awareness of all parties involved as they promote the usage of e-payments,

In media reports late last year, hawkers said they have been cheated by opportunistic customers who show them screenshots of fake or old transactions as “proof” of payment. This comes as more hawkers joined the Hawkers Go Digital scheme, with 10,000 stallholders now accepting e-payments.

Stallholders said their customers have also taken some time to get used to the new payments system. Stall owners who operate in the hawker centre said there has been a slow but steady increase in the number of customers opting for cashless payments. They said that some people may take some time to make the payment and other customers may be impatient while older customers do not know how to make cashless transactions.

To address these worries, the Government worked with an e-payments provider to come up with a way for them to be alerted when they have received payment. Now, hawkers using the Singapore Quick Response Code (SGQR) to collect payment will get a vocal signal in English or Mandarin or a sound signal when the transaction has gone through.

The scheme aims to help all 18,000 stallholders here adopt the national e-payment system (SGQR). Under the scheme, hawkers are offered incentives of up to SG $1,500 for adopting e-payments, and over 7,400 have already been granted the bonus. The eligibility period for the bonus has also been extended from 31 December last year to May 31 this year to encourage more to go digital, added the Minister.

Speaking on the progress of the scheme, he stated that when you look at it in totality, it has been a good programme, it is getting good reception and traction amongst hawkers. It is one of the key priorities of the new Ministerial Committee for Digital Transformation he jointly chairs with Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing. To aid these efforts, the Government also set up a new digitalisation office to double down on outreach efforts to the hardest-to-reach segments of society and encourage them to adopt digital tools.

This new SG Digital Office (SDO) recruited 1,000 digital ambassadors to help stallholders and seniors learn how to use digital tools – skills which the Government says are more important than ever, given disruptions caused by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Also, the same e-payment service provider and a taxi company announced a new partnership to drive digital payments adoption at hawker centres across the island through a new incentive programme that rewards taxi drivers for every new hawker that they sign up.

The ‘Hawker Champion’ incentive programme supports the e-payments thrust in Singapore’s Smart Nation vision. Together with the service provider’s existing ‘Go Cashless’ consumer campaign, it is expected to help build a cashless ecosystem at hawker centres, as reported by OpenGov Asia.

Minister confidently said that Singapore’s hawkers and wet market stallholders should embrace digitalisation in the form of cashless payments without fear as they will receive support from the Government each step of the way.

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