Some Hawkers Refused E-Payments Because of Uncooperative Customers, Dishonest Acts & More


Last Updated on 2023-03-16 , 9:20 am

Ever since Singapore started their e-payment campaign in hawker centres and coffee shops, life has gotten better.

Now, you can leave your house with just your mobile phone and get a bowl of piping hot mee pok without having to go to the nearby ATM.

Don’t take this for granted, however, because this privilege only exists as long as we all try not to game the system.

Here’s what happened.

Some Hawkers Refused E-Payments Because of Uncooperative Customers

According to an CNA report, some hawkers in Singapore are switching back to cash only transactions after trying out the digital payment system.

One of the reasons was due to dishonest customers.

A worker at the beverage stall at China Square Food Centre told the news media that some customers refused to show the transaction page to prove their purchase.

While it might be manageable to insist on seeing the page during non-peak hours, it would be a different story during peak hours.

Another hawker, 84-year-old Madam Tuan Ngap Eng, a Hainanese Chicken Rice stall owner, said she heard stories about dishonest customers.

“I heard from other people that some people cheat and don’t actually pay.”

She was referring to how customers try to cheat their way through by showing screenshots of past transactions.

KF Seetoh also pointed out how hawkers might be afraid of getting scammed out of their hard-earned money.

“Especially older hawkers, they largely have mistrust for digital systems because the newspaper, television news all (play) up all these scam stories so they are very fearful. And every hawker has such thin margins, they’d rather put cash under their pillows”

This trick was brought up years ago and, in response, NETS devised a foolproof way to verify legitimate payments.

Other Reasons Why Hawkers are Turned Off by E-Payments

Of course, dishonesty isn’t the only reason why hawkers are pushing back against digital payments.

Another reason is due to some hawkers’ unfamiliarity with the technology.

Madam Tuan pointed out that if she has any issues with the system, she has no one to turn to for help.


Another stall owner, Mr Quek, said he only uses his phone for calls.

Mr Anthony Low, a 55-year-old hawker who owns three ngoh hiang stalls, said despite his assistants’ best efforts, the amount of sales report doesn’t tally with the amount in his bank account at the end of the day.

According to KF Seetoh, the hawkers might also have need for immediate cash to buy ingredients, cash that might still be stored in the digital system.

Still Some Way to Go

The good news is, hawkers know that adopting e-payments is something that has to be done. After all, the younger crowd are more used to cashless payments now.

“As younger people switch to e-payments, the older generation of hawkers will lose more customers if they only accept cash.”

However, there is still some finetuning that needs to be done before the system can operate seamlessly, Mr Low said.


This include WiFi issues, transaction fees cutting into the hawkers’ already slim profit margins, among others.

As customers, we should also pay these friendly hawkers fairly for their labour and effort.

After all, it’s not just courtesy, you could be punished heavily if caught cheating our friendly hawkers.