facebookI’ve Tried Going Cashless For Two Years in Singapore: Here’s How It Went

I’ve Tried Going Cashless For Two Years in Singapore: Here’s How It Went

profileJustin Oh

Back in 2018, there was this “go cashless for a week” challenge that was trending in the media.

So how about going cashless for years? Siao (Hokkien: Crazy)

I know, I know, cash has long been the main form of transacting.

Source: Giphy

But, what are the pros and cons of going cashless in Singapore today? Is it even possible to go fully cashless?

Well, here’s my story!


Before we begin, let me just say that I’ve actually tried going cashless since 2016. Two years in Singapore, three years in Australia, and another two years in Singapore.

The first two years in Singapore were very tough as I still found myself using emergency cash from my wallet at many places. But when I moved to Australia from 2018 to 2020, I went almost fully cashless. And all I really needed to bring out was my mobile phone!

So yea, I’ve been going cashless for a while now and have quite a bit of experience.

That aside, let’s talk about my experience going cashless from 2021 till now.

Going Cashless in Singapore

As compared to 2016, going cashless in Singapore now is much much easier thanks to initiatives like Hawkers Go Digital. One of the main qualms I had before was not being able to pay without cash at hawker centers.

But with the roll-out of payment services such as SGQR, ShopBack, PayNow, DBS PayLah!, and the like, I rarely ever have to use cash for my purchases.

Pros of going cashless

Throughout the years, there are certainly many benefits that have kept me going cashless as far as I could (I still keep a spare $10 note in my wallet just in case but only ever use it like, once a quarter).

Source: Giphy

Firstly, I no longer had to carry around large sums of cash and worry about losing it.

I’m sure you’ve read about a Singaporean who lost $14,000 in cash because they threw it away by accident. Damn.

Even if I did lose my wallet, I’ll only be losing a few credit cards which can be replaced easily, and my spare $10 note, as compared to say a traditional shopper who would carry around $100 – $300 in cash. Plus, my wallet wouldn’t be as bulky if it was only filled with essential cards.

Secondly, going cashless has made it easier to track my personal finances as all my transactions are recorded in the respective apps. With cash, I often find myself forgetting what I spent it on or failing to account for loose change, which ends up screwing with the number on my expense tracking app.

And last but not least, going cashless allowed me to take full advantage of cashback, rebates, and reward programmes offered by payment services and credit cards. While it may not seem like much at first, all these savings actually add up quite a bit (about $100 or more a year!).

Cons of going cashless

Of course, going cashless in Singapore isn’t a bed of roses and there are minor annoyances that I had to deal with.

Source: Giphy

The first is, of course, ensuring that my phone was always topped up throughout the day. But since I still do carry a wallet around that includes a couple debit cards, I could still survive if my phone failed on me.

Next, stores could charge you down to the cent. I know, it’s really a small thing but it still is annoying at times. Let’s say your meal totals $7.41 inclusive of GST. With cash, you’ll most probably pay just $7.40, but with cashless payments, they’ll squeeze even that few cents out of you.

Some people have also reportedly paid $700 instead of $7 for example when trying to make payments. But for me so far, I haven’t had that issue of carelessness as I always double check before I pay.

Lastly, there are still stores that only accept cash payments, which explains why I still have to bring around emergency cash. Most of the time, however, I’ll just avoid stores that are cash-only and patronise the ones nearby that aren’t.

What’s on My Phone After Going Cashless in Singapore

Of course, going cashless means replacing cash with another means of transacting. This comes in two forms, e-payments, and debit/credit cards.

In Singapore, there are just far too many e-payment options, so I’ll list the ones that I’ve been using frequently in the past two years.

E-payment AppsWhat Is It For?
Google Pay (or Google Wallet)NFC Contactless payments using stored credit cards

Payments via PayNow QR codes
DBS PayLah!For when contactless payments/PayNow QR codes are unavailable.
ShopBackShopBack QR codes for cashback.
GrabPayLast resort if all of the above are not available.

Should You Try Going Cashless?

All in all, Singapore is not yet truly cashless. And trying to go cashless as much as possible really depends on your lifestyle!

Do you find yourself still using cash often? If not, you can try going cashless as much as possible. But it’s definitely much easier to go cashless now than it ever was before. It might take a while to set up with downloading e-payment apps and signing up for cards but in the long run, I believe it is well worth it.

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About Justin Oh
Your average Zillennial who is obsessed with anime, games, movies and of course, personal finance. Join me as I break down personal finance into easily digestible and fun bits!
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