Aware but unmoved: Here’s why Singaporeans are not fans of digital payments

It’s no secret that Singapore boasts a well-educated population with some of the highest levels of digital literacy in the region.

According to latest statistics from PayPal’s “Digital Payments: Thinking Beyond Transactions” report, Singapore has a 98% smartphone ownership rate.

The study, which surveyed 4,000 consumers and 1,400 merchants across seven markets in Asia, also found that 100% of all 500 consumers surveyed in Singapore had access to the Internet.

Findings from the report were mostly unsurprising, with most of the data pointing toward a laggardness in the adoption of digital payments not just in Singapore, but also in various other cities in Asia.

And yet, Singapore does stand out in one segment – knowledge of contactless payment options.

For example, the study found that 62% of Singaporeans were aware of contactless payment via cards. In contrast, only 23% of respondents in the seven markets were found to be aware.

PayPal Singapore country report

Awareness of e-wallets, contactless mobile payments and inbuilt app payments in Singapore also high in comparison to the total figures for all seven markets.

The rate of digital payment adoption is also higher in Singapore at 82%, compared to just 58% across Asia Pacific.

PayPal Singapore country report

It’s apparent that the awareness of digital payments and their benefits has not been motivating enough for Singaporeans to fully embrace digital payments, especially since cash remains a core component of the payment mix here.

The PayPal study found that most Singapore consumers who did not adopt digital payments were unwilling to budge from their current payment methods as they remained highly satisfied with them. Security and inconvenience were also barriers to the move towards digital, with 51% indicating privacy was a concern, and 36% saying the processes involved were too complicated.

Ironically, high levels of awareness and digital literacy have actually slowed down the adoption of digital payments. A large proportion – 63% – of respondents said more payment methods meant more confusion for consumers, and 53% found it challenging to keep up with fast-moving digital trends.

The same problems seem to plague business owners, as 64% in Singapore said more payments were more confusing for consumers, and 65% indicated that they found it difficult to stay current.

PayPal Singapore country report

What’s interesting though, is that the study also suggests that peer-to-peer education could be the key to driving digital payment usage in Singapore.

PayPal Singapore country report

Around 70% of Singapore consumers and 79% of local merchants said they would move toward digital payments if they received recommendations from their peers.

Additionally, around 69% of Singapore consumers and 81% of merchants said they would recommend new digital payment methods to their peers.