Excuse me, do you think we’ve been scammed? Before we get into that, let’s go back a bit first.
The notorious PLP (pathetic lightning pleaser), former Nominated MP Calvin Cheng went on Facebook to “name and shame” certain food stalls at a food court in the CBD that only accept cash. Earlier on, he called it “mad” when ATMs were installed at void decks to make it more convenient for elderly residents.
“Let’s not spread the myth that old people cannot use digital payments. Old people from small villages in China do it daily. Are our old people more backward???” said Mr Cheng. Apparently, he’s running some talent agency in China and must have seen many older fogies using apps on China’s official state media. As far as I know, my elderly relatives in China don’t even own a mobile phone.
On Feb. 10, 2023, Calvin Cheng posted two pictures of food stalls with signs that said “cash term” and “only cash will be accepted”.
Calvin Cheng was even more unforgiving this time. He said: “Another backward food court in the CBD that ONLY accepts cash. Name and Shame.”
While Cheng later clarified that only several stalls in that food court enforced a “cash only” policy, he went on to say it was “so shameful” that the drink shop stopped allowing transactions by PayNow.
Cheng went as far as to call for a boycott of “all businesses that do not offer alternatives to cash.” without trying to understand why.
“They must not hamper Singapore’s development as a smart nation,” Cheng said in his usual pompous, insensitive tone.
Calvin Cheng insisted that it’s shameful to accept cash only and shops that do that should not be allowed to operate in the CBD. Cheng pointed out that he was worried when he saw all the negative comments to his callous remarks. He’s not worried about getting flamed by the way. He was worried for Singapore. He believed that Singapore will be left behind by others if we don’t go cashless.
While I appreciate the convenience of cashless payments that eliminate coins and cheques, we cannot simply rule out cash. Besides, the hawkers must have good reason not to use something that is truly more convenient. Unfortunately, our cashless transaction systems are neither failproof nor foolproof. I’ve seen it happen before; ridiculously long and anxious queues at supermarkets. Our old hawkers are not stupid. They have very valid concerns. And just a couple of days ago:
Yes, the cashless transaction systems are not foolproof and scamproof either. Knowing how to use apps is one thing. Being able to detect scams and cheating is another. The elderly folks in China may know how to use those apps but they are a very vulnerable bunch. Not being able to pay for purchases due to a system fault is a relatively small problem compared to getting scammed. And it’s so much easier to lose your entire savings account with a digital system.
A recent report at the Global Anti Scam Alliance Summit in Lisbon Portugal reveals Singapore as the country where scammers had the most success.
During the one-year period from August 2022 to August 2023, gangs are estimated to have scammed approximately US$1.02 trillion globally, of which victims in Singapore lost an average of US$4,031 per victim. This is the highest amount among all countries with data.
The total amount lost to scams is significantly higher than the US$55.3 billion lost globally in period between 2021 and 2020, according to joint research by the non-profit Global Anti Scam Alliance (GASA) and data service provider ScamAdviser. Prior to that, the total amount scammed was US$47.8 billion. The big jump is worrying.
This data was revealed by Jorij Abraham, Managing Director of GASA, during his opening speech at the Global Anti-Scam Summit held in Lisbon, Portugal on 18th October 2023.
According to the GASA report, scam victims in Singapore have the highest average loss, with each victim losing an average of US$4,031. Switzerland ranks second, with each victim losing US$3,767 and in third place, Austria’s losses were US$3,484.
Dr Lisa Ng, Director of the Policy Development Department of the Ministry of Home Affairs of Singapore, pointed out in the report that scam cases have been growing at an alarming rate in Singapore. Last year alone, the authorities received 31,728 scam notifications, a year-on-year increase of 32.6%.
“It is worth noting that platforms such as Whatsapp, Telegram, Facebook and Instagram have become hot spots for scams, with phishing scams leading the way, followed by job search and e-commerce scams.” said Dr Ng.
She also said that Singapore’s Inter-departmental Committee to Combat Scams uses various strategies to combat the challenges posed by scams, including the blocking of channels through which scammers contact victims, promptly detecting and reporting possible scam cases, enforcing the law and recovering the victims’ monies.
At the same time, the authorities have also stepped up education programs to enhance public knowledge and awareness of scams. Dr Lisa Ng suggested that cross-border law enforcement capabilities can be improved through international cooperation, such as setting up a framework to quickly recover lost funds.
“Second, develop global norms to prevent scams, including establishing guidelines for online platforms to verify user identities and prevent the creation of fake accounts.” Dr Ng added.
After we’ve all been encouraged to go cashless and even shamed for not doing that, Gojek is going to charge for cashless transactions. Yao mo gao chor ah? Why do I feel like we’ve been tricked? Should we shame the companies that charge for cashless transactions? Where is Calvin Cheng when we need him?