Singapore is one of the most advanced payments markets globally. As per our 2016 Consumer Payments Insight Survey, 83% of adults in Singapore have a debit card, and the same proportion hold a credit card. The market also has a strong payments infrastructure. However, card usage in Singapore lags behind other developed markets in the region.
At 349 payment cards per 100 inhabitants, consumers in Singapore hold significantly more payment cards in their wallets compared to their peers in Australia and New Zealand. All three markets have a high level of point of sale (POS) penetration, but consumer and merchant attitudes towards payments cards are different.
Consumers in Singapore use their payment cards at the POS around a third as much as consumers in Australia and New Zealand. They also tend to use their cards for relatively high-ticket items, rather than low-value transactions like their peers in New Zealand and Australia.
One of the reasons for this is that there are still pockets in Singapore’s retail market where cash is the preferred payment tool, and where payment cards are not accepted. According to data from Statistics Singapore there are currently over 14,000 licensed hawkers in the country. This specific retail segment also represents the largest cash-based merchant segment in the market. If these merchants start accepting payment cards, the country would have a much better chance of progressing towards a cashless economy – or at the very least, significantly boosting payment card usage.
By Arnie Cho, Senior Consumer Payments Analyst