Singapore’s first “Smart Nation” kopitiam, Yishun Park Hawker Centre, is now desperate after Singaporeans boycotted the government’s pet project. Despite offering 50-cent coffee and free parking from last Wednesday May 23, Singaporeans are still not patronising the “Smart Nation” coffeeshop.
According to a state media report in April, hawkers at Yishun Park were suffering massive losses with 8 of them already vacated in less than six months. The new coffeeshop was built in Sept 20 last year, and featured cardless transactions. However, cash-paying customers are penalised with a 10% increase in prices. The hawkers were also complaining about the difference in pricing and one stated that he would inflate his prices when there are too many cashless transactions.
The “Smart Nation” kopitiam also forces patrons to pay a S$1 deposit for trays. The move is met with resistance from Singaporeans as this helps the coffeeshop to save on labour costs over hiring of cleaners. Singaporeans gathered to boycott the coffeeshop to express their disapproval against the pilot project, to prevent the government from implementing similar cashless systems in other coffeeshops.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong implemented the “Smart Nation” initiatives in last year’s National Day Rally, saying that he admire China for going “cashless”.