Photo of Yishun Park Hawker Centre from Google

In a press release by HDB, NEA and JTC Corporation, some 245 coffee shops will have to offer cashless transactions under their appointed-contractor NETs. From August 2020, hawker food stall owners leasing from the government will have to pay service fees of 0.5% per transaction.

The cashless direction is part of Lee Hsien Loong’s directive on “Smart Nation”, that has since kicked off a wave of inflation in food prices due to transaction costs. At his 2017 National Day Rally speech, Lee Hsien Loong said he admired China’s cashless society and vowed to turn cashless payment as a preferred transaction. His plan was however met with poor responses, despite ploughing in tens of millions in government schemes in the past two years.

Among the first victim of “Smart Nation” is Pasir Ris Central Hawker Centre, a newly-built food centre by NTUC. About 20% of the stall owners folded up in less than half a year, after not receiving payment from cashless transactions for about 5 months. Another “Smart Nation” hawker centre with hawker stall owners going into massive losses is Yishun Park Hawker Centre. Patrons complained about the cleanliness of the food centre as the hawker centre practices a “smart” system of S$1 deposit tray-return.