Published on 11 Apr 2021

Some businesses going fully cashless during Covid-19 to speed up transactions

Unlike most retail outlets which have cashiers, Decathlon has switched to cashless, self-checkout kiosks for all its 12 branches.

More businesses in Singapore are adopting cashless payment methods but some have gone fully cashless, especially after Covid-19 hit last year.

But while taking this route saves employees time from not having to count cash and deposit it in banks, industry experts said the move could alienate certain customer segments.

The cashless process was easy and fast for Mr Ang, 25, who said customers could just scan their items at numerous kiosks.

"In this day and age, I feel we should all move towards cashless, it is the future of shopping," he added.

Decathlon Singapore's director, Mr Mathieu Blanchard, said it went fully cashless after reopening in June last year.

He added that it was mainly to provide a seamless experience for its customers while observing Covid-19 safety measures.

He said the company installed more self-checkout kiosks, which were already in use before the transition.

For example, the City Square Mall outlet saw six cashiers making way for self-checkout kiosks, giving a total of 12 currently.

Decathlon also introduced an app in August to allow customers to pay via their mobile phones.

Mr Blanchard added: "Going cashless in June was just our first step to completely digitalise the checkout experience in our stores.

"We strongly believe that going digital is the future of retail and customers will mainly checkout via their mobile phones."

He added that going cashless has resulted in quicker service for customers and freed up employees to do other meaningful tasks, such as handling inquiries.

Going cashless has resulted in quicker service for customers. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Cake boutique Lady M went fully cashless at two of its outlets when it opened in 2016 and 2017 at South Beach Avenue and Scotts Square respectively. Three other outlets did the same in June last year.

Its chief operating officer, Ms Geraldine Liew, 33, said going cashless during a pandemic has had its benefits.

"With no cash transactions, we have successfully reduced human interactions... and this has helped us ensure the safety of both our staff and customers," she noted.

Ms Liew added other gains came from reduced waiting times and faster transactions.

Lady M went fully cashless at two of its outlets when it opened in 2016 and 2017 at South Beach Avenue and Scotts Square respectively. ST PHOTO: KHALID BABA

Coffee chain The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf also announced on Facebook last June that it was going fully cashless.

F&B outlets Two Men Bagel House and Wild Honey have also tapped that option.

Experts agree there are several advantages for businesses.

Professor Sumit Agarwal from National University of Singapore's Business School said there is leakage associated with cash, such as possible theft by employees, mismanagement as well as the cost of depositing and withdrawing money.

He added: "Imagine an employee preparing tea and also having to deal with cash. But if you're just scanning a QR code, the employee doesn't have to do anything, the payment is already registered."

Professor Boh Wai Fong from Nanyang Technological University's Nanyang Business School, said businesses can also expect greater efficiency through quicker billings and faster closing of accounts by eliminating the need to handle cash.

Though there are pluses to going cashless, Prof Agarwal said doing so might hurt certain segments of the population, especially those who are older and may not be technologically savvy, or may prefer to use cash as they feel it is less risky.

"For such populations, cash is safer because dealing with gadgets, passwords and logins creates vulnerability, and other people can exploit those things," he noted.

Prof Boh added that many small businesses and hawkers are still wary about cashless payments. Some still use cash to suit their suppliers' preference.

Source: The Straits Times, 11 April 2021