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Start them young: DBS launches smart watch for school kids to learn about cashless payments


By Shawn Lim, Reporter, Asia Pacific

August 18, 2017 | 5 min read

DBS, the 2016 world best digital bank, is looking to start educating Singaporeans about cashless payments at a younger age, after launching a digital smart watch which allows school children from 19 primary schools to pay for their purchases in school.


DBS is looking to start educating Singaporeans about cashless payments at a younger age.

The watch is part of the DBS-owned POSB Smart Buddy programme, which helps students to track their savings, spending habits and pay for their purchases at school canteens and bookstores, where payment terminals have been set up.

The bank believes that to truly become a ‘smart nation’ and for Singapore to fully embrace digital payments, it should start by educating today’s students so that they are well prepared for the technology of tomorrow, a spokesperson told The Drum.

“This (the watch) will help them appreciate the merits of digital payments, such as understanding how the data captured can provide insights to their savings and spending patterns,” explained the spokesperson.

“At the same time, we should ensure their ecosystem is outfitted accordingly – for instance, school canteens, bookstores and transport service providers should be able to accept digital payments.

“This is precisely what we’re trying to accomplish with the POSB Smart Buddy programme.”

Having already issued over 6,000 POSB Smart Buddy watches to students since the programme’s inception last year, DBS firmly believes that mobile and wearable technologies are the future of cashless payments.

“Over the years, DBS has been relentlessly expanding its payments partnerships and channels by leveraging digital innovation,” said the spokesperson.

“The key to success lies in our ability to connect relevant ecosystems with the appropriate digital payment platforms; to identify form factors that resonate well with the different consumer demographics.

“This requires in-depth understanding of our customers’ payment journey, particularly with regards to mobile or wearable technology. Singapore has one of the world’s highest penetration of mobile & wearable technology ownership.

“This places our bank in an unique position, where we can experiment and leverage this technology to create great customer journeys and experiences in the various ecosystem.”

On whether Singapore will become like cities in China and Netherlands, where a majority of retailers have gone cashless and people have learned to change their habits of how they pay, the spokesperson believes that the city-state is well-primed to become less cash-reliant and to transition to digital payments.

However, while technology and infrastructure is key, DBS believe a multi-pronged approach is required to accelerate e-payment adoption in Singapore.

The spokesperson pointed again to raising public awareness of the benefits of adopting digital payments for consumers, as well as enhancing payments ecosystems with easy to use options to meet customer, merchant payment needs and preferences, as some of the approaches that DBS uses.

She added that building up acceptance of digital payments across retailers by highlighting its safety and efficiency, especially with smaller businesses with real and perceived concerns, and demonstrating that there are real productivity gains by adopting digital payment technology are also crucial.

“For instance, Old Tea Hut, who does takeaway coffee & tea, saw a 10 percent sales increment since implementing DBS FasTrack in May 2016, without any additional manpower,” shared the spokesperson.

“It has also removed the need for another cashier during rush hour since orders and payments are automated via DBS FasTrack.

“Since then, major foodcourts like Koufu, local chicken rice chains such as Boon Tong Kee and Five Star Hainanese Kampung Chicken Rice Restaurant have also adopted the DBS FasTrack solution with many others in the pipeline.”

The spokesperson concluded that having a well-thought out national enablement plan involving stakeholders in the ecosystem and applying a suitable technological platform that will serve to improve the journey of service providers and consumers, creating the motivation and impetus to adopt cashless payments.

The Drum recently spoke to Visa, who also actively uses education to help Singapore understand cashless payments.

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