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How cashless mainland China made Hong Kong, Singapore look backward

2018-10-07 09:16:46       source:The South China Morning Post

October 6, 2018

It’s lunchtime on a Tuesday and a hungry office worker has just pulled up beside Amoy Street Food Centre – a popular haunt in the Central Business District of Singapore. For the next five minutes he fumbles with a parking coupon, tearing tiny holes in the paper to indicate the date and time, as well as the duration he will be parking his car there.

Up till about a year ago, this was a common sight in the 1,100 public car parks across the island, as were tiny round pieces of paper littered on the ground. But on this day, his car was the only one of the 10 along the street bearing coupons. This tedious fee-paying method is becoming obsolete, as drivers increasingly pay their car park fees electronically through the Parking.sg app.

Like Hong Kong with its Octopus card, Singapore was an early adopter of e-payment systems, starting with the introduction of the General Interbank Recurring Order (GIRO) in 1985, which allowed people to make monthly payments to a billing organisation directly from their bank accounts. But since those early days both cities have found themselves leapfrogged in the race to the cashless society by mainland China’s burgeoning mobile payment scene.

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