As part of the propaganda drive to promote digital payments, Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Janil Puthucheary misled Singaporeans at a state media radio interview claiming that cash transactions can “incur a significant cost”. The statement brought puzzling looks to the radio hosts and the ex-Malaysian Minister who has never served National Service had to clarify his half-truth, saying that the costs are incurred at the bank, and not on the consumer:
“When you go to the ATM, someone had to stock that ATM, manage the cash and maintain the ATM. And then when you take it from the ATM to the cashier, after the cashier puts it in the machine, later on it also has to be hauled back to the bank and recycled. So there’s a cost associated with processing cash. Someone pays that cost.”
Payment via cards incur a higher cost to consumers in Singapore, where many merchandisers and taxi drivers charge S$0.20 for each card payment transaction. Consumers also have to pay administrative costs when using merchandiser cards like EZ-link, where a S$5 deposit is required, in additional to “locked” value in the cards.
Going cashless has also resulted in severe inconveniences for those who do not own a bank card. Elderly, poor, bankrupts and children are the hardest hit as they carry only cash.
The Singapore government however ignore the vulnerable groups and force-fed the cashless direction by deliberately removing cash counters in train stations and hospitals.