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Saturday, 26 August 2017

Towards cashless society, how about a unified digital wallet

On the latest coverage on going cashless:

  1. Can Singapore catch up in race to go cashless?
  2. Govt agencies explore e-payment solutions for hawker centres, coffee shops

The success or failure of the drive hinges not on what Singapore want to achieve but how consumers (end users) wants. Just like for start-ups to succeed, it is not about how wonderful a product or service the company can offer, but how well it addresses the unresolved need of the consumer.

For cashless to take off, one crucial aspect is user experience which boils down to convenience. A typical user now must grapple with cash to make small value purchase in hawker centres, wet market or small groceries stores. He also uses cash to top up store value cards such as Kopitiam card for food court usage. With proper planning, he might juggle a portfolio of credit cards that no only suit his spending habits but also maximises his rebates (cashback, air miles or vouchers). Through his active life, he might also accumulate many membership cards, discount cards and so forth. He might do well to drive a car and so pick up a driver licence along the way. With kids, he might have more loyalty cards for family oriented programmes.

Taken together, going cashless and making cash payment easier only solves part of the problem and not enough to convince end users to switch. To make matters worse, as highlighted in the various articles, the need to maintain so many payment system for businesses add to the inertia for any transition.
Looking at the issue holistically, we need not only a common, low cost payment system that benefit businesses but also a common digital wallet for end users. Such unified digital wallet allows payment, whether from credit or cash accounts, and digitalised other cards such as identification, driver licence and discount cards. The back-end of this digital wallet can either be a government or third party maintained central data depository. The front-end will be an app that a user can download to their mobile phones. Payments and authentication (identity, membership, or discounts) will be done via QR code scanning (camera enabled phones are ubiquitous but not NFC ones). This way, the wallet that one carries can literally be replaced by a mobile phone completely.

Unfortunately, the downside to all these digitalisation is the challenge to help those less able to handle the cashless platforms such as the non-English literate elderly, the blind or vision impaired. For them, traditional payments and identification must still be available and not totally done away with.


Saturday, 12 August 2017

Local developer's hope or dream

All signs point to a potential recovery in the property market even when the slew of cooling measures have not been lifted. However, one rule, Qualifying Certificate in particular that was in place to "By limiting foreign companies' holding period, the QC scheme was meant to prevent them from hoarding land or buying land for speculation in Singapore". Basically the developers had 5 years to build and 2 years to sell all to avoid any penalties.

However, this does not seem to deter them from aggressively biding for land recently. They do not mind bidding ahead of fundamentals, i.e. "They may bid at zero margins but by the time they launch it, they make a handsome profit out of it." In order words, they must be pretty confident they can sell them all and well.

Thus it is kind of strange when Mr Kwek raised the concern about the QC scheme. "..."Such penalties are heavy and erode all profit. I hope the Government reviews them again to steady the rate of growth in terms of price increase." What he did raise rightly was the aggressive nature of foreign developers risk pricing the locals out of the market. "If not, you can see every bid (for land) now is higher and higher than ever. Land is akin to raw material for a factory, and if we don't have that, the factory will be doing nothing. Therefore, there's no choice but to bid for the land. If you put in a cheaper bid because you think it's the right price, you'll get nothing." So its really up to the local developers to face up to the competition, wherever its coming from.


Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Happy Birthday Singapore!!!

Happy Birthday Singapore!!! 

Woohoo, I am back. After orbiting around my two adorable kids for the past few years, I can finally resume some blogging on my investment pursuit after a hiatus of more than four years since the last fruitful journal entry. This time though, I'll focus more on personal finance, still my favourite topic.

Looking back at what I had posted and the comments I had received, my immaturity and inexperience were obvious. I had written more to (re)assure myself I made the right equity decisions and sparring with fellow investors who bothered to comment merely exposed my decision flaws. I sincerely thanked them for coming out to comment and sharing their thoughts.

From a bachelor to a husband to a father of two school-going children, really made me mature a lot and probably age faster than I admit. My values do not change but my priorities do. Stability and certainty matters more to me now than before. Not that I avoid risks but I am now much more cautious (less aggressive). I am more willing to trade-off potential capital gains from undervalue gems for more cash-flow stability via sustainable dividend stocks. Overall portfolio growth can still be attained from compounding reinvested dividends. Nonetheless, I still do my due diligence and research to avoid overpaying for any business, a red line that I will never cross. 

I had also created a Facebook page,, to share interesting articles and put up short posts. Stay tuned for more.