Mobile cashless payment is getting more popular lately with the Singapore government pushing ahead towards being a smart nation. But with mobile payments, security and privacy are still a major concern for consumers and businesses in the country.

In a study by online payment service provider PayPal, 90 per cent of the 500 Singaporean consumers surveyed still prefer cash as the primary method for transactions. As found by the survey, cashless payment is still not widely accepted by consumers but is slowly gaining traction in recent months due to promotions efforts by the various cashless payment providers.

Concerns by consumers

Storing of payment card details in smartphones has always been a concern for cautious Singaporeans — especially when there’s tons of news about fraudulent card transactions being charged to their cards. However, consumers should also know that mobile payment methods offered by major providers are secure as they use methods such as encryption and tokenization to mask or store payment card account numbers when you enter them and when you pay.

Topping up of digital wallet accounts is also another concern cited by consumers. Most find it a hassle to go through the long process of topping up and then using it to transact for cashless payment, whereas some just don’t feel comfortable or safe to put their money into a digital wallet which they do not use frequently.

Concerns by businesses

Having the ability and functionality to be able to check day-to-day transaction records should be the foremost important thing if a merchant were to adopt the cashless payment options. This should be the most important functionality for service providers. A payment system that doesn’t allow easy tracking of transactions is a problem.

I spoke to one owner of a food stall located at a Hawker Centre, and he pointed out that although cashless payments are being introduced at all the stalls, checking of transactions have proven to be a hassle. There are cases that happened when they do not received any SMS notification when a customer uses the mobile cashless payment and they are unable to check the transaction to see if it’s actually transacted. There is no merchant mobile app and the only way to see is by logging into his bank account which he can’t possibly give access to his staff, causing a privacy concern.

This is one problem as well, because for most cashless payments, cashier intervention is limited. Consumers are the ones who check out and show that a payment is made. But there are cases wherein there isn’t the transaction at all. It may just be a screenshot of a previously made transaction — which means a lot of lost business to the merchant on that sale.

Pushing for cashless payment society, security is crucial

While doing our best to push for a cashless payment society in Singapore, strengthening the cashless payment process such as the use of OTP (One Time Password) might be a viable solution. This will give businesses more assurance on adopting cashless payment over the counter without worrying or disputes.

Consumer adoption over cashless payment wise might take some time. But with the current efforts by service providers giving promotions, it gives consumers an added advantage to use cashless payment.

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