Another dot in the blogosphere?

Pay in order to pay?

Posted on: December 23, 2017

If you do not point out that something is odd or wrong, it soon becomes the norm. This is another way of saying what Jon Stewart said in his final episode of The Daily Show:

The best defense against bullshit is vigilance. So if you smell something, say something. -- Jon Stewart

The oddities or wrongdoings do not have to be outlandish or major crimes. They can be seemingly mundane events that we choose to ignore or forget to question.

Take our need to pay before you actually pay. In Singapore, this happens for simple things — like when you wish to buy a cinema ticket online or when you want to pay for a cab ride with your a phone app.

I was reminded of the latter when my family took a cab ride home from the airport. I noticed that the NETSPay QR code scheme was available. I opted to try it as every retailer I had asked before was not ready (even those that had the scan here sign or a QR code on point-of-sale devices).

However, the cabbie warned me that there was a 30-cent surcharge. Service and sales providers call this a “convenience fee”.

Really. I had to pay to go cashless. I should charge an inconvenience fee for forcing me to withdraw money from an ATM and for miring me in the past.

How are the authorities, retailers, and providers to encourage widespread adoption of cashless payments when we are penalised by paying in order to pay?

What else does the Goods and Services Tax (GST) do if not to also improve the sale of products and services — seamless and secure being one area improvement?

Imagine if our banks, utility services, and telecommunication providers charged a “convenience fee” for electronic statements. We might go backwards to snail mail-based statements because people want to get and feel something for their money.

In schooling and education, I imagine a ridiculous scenario of attending a class where you can see the teacher talking but you must pay extra to hear what s/he is saying. The teaching resources are also blurred or redacted and you must pay to see it in entirety.

The scenario is as silly as the convenience fee is stupid. The providers who charge this fee are greedy and the regulators inattentive. Collectively, we are stupid to pay in order to pay. We have a long way to go to be a Smart Nation if we cannot get something that is as mundane and mainstream as cashless payment.

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