National Campaign to Minimise Cash Transactions



The National Campaign to Minimise Cash Transactions was launched on 14 March 1985 to urge Singaporeans to carry out financial transactions electronically.1 The drive to bring Singapore closer to a cashless society was part of the government’s plan to increase productivity. The government aimed to make cashless transactions a way of life for Singaporeans by 1987.2

Background and objectives
It was estimated that the government would save S$24.5 million in terms of manpower cost if cash transactions were minimised.3 The three-month campaign had three goals: to encourage Singaporeans to receive salaries through direct credit to the bank; to persuade them to pay their bills electronically via the General Interbank Recurring Order (GIRO); and to promote payments through the Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale (EFTPOS).4


In January 1984, a 17-member committee was set up to carry out the S$250,000 campaign. Led by then Head of Civil Service Andrew Chew, the task force comprised representatives from the government, employer associations, banks and the National Trades Union Congress.5

Campaign
The campaign was launched at the Singapore Conference Hall on 14 March 1985.6 In conjunction with the launch, a four-day exhibition was also held at the venue to highlight the benefits of a range of electronic banking services.7 Members of the public were educated about these services and the use of automated teller machines (ATMs), through videos, demonstrations and hands-on exhibits provided by various organisations, mainly banks and computer companies.8 Mobile exhibitions were also set up at People’s Park Centre and Parkway Parade to raise awareness on cashless transactions.9


During the campaign, there were advertisements on television, radio, Rediffusion, cinemas and public buses. Workers also received letters and brochures promoting the conveniences of cashless paydays. In addition, a hotline was set up by the Ministry of Finance to answer public queries.10

Cashless paydays
At the start of the campaign, only 51 percent of workers’ salaries in Singapore were paid through direct credit into bank accounts.11 The government aimed to increase participation in cashless paydays to at least 70 percent of salaried workers by urging the private sector to follow suit. To this end, 2,000 letters were sent out to employers encouraging them to pay their employees through the bank instead of cash.12 The Housing and Development Board also relaxed its rule on the location of ATMs, so that more machines could be added to meet the increased demand.13


To ensure the smooth implementation of cashless paydays, employers were encouraged to stagger paydays, so that demand for bank services could be distributed more evenly.14 Circulars were sent to the permanent secretaries of government departments, urging them to step up training on the use of ATMs for daily-rated employees.15

General Interbank Recurring Order
The campaign also encouraged the public to pay their bills through GIRO. It was reported in September 1985 that, out of 40 million payments made to the government, only seven million of them were made in cheques and five million through GIRO.16 To encourage more people to use GIRO, the government phased out the 20 Multi-Revenue Collection Scheme Centres that were collecting government dues in cash. The transactions included payments for income and property taxes, utility and telephone bills, and penalties for traffic offences.17


Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale
The most challenging part of the campaign was the implementation of EFTPOS – a mode of cashless transaction in which shoppers pay for purchases and bills with an ATM card.18


In June 1985, 10,000 people and 39 retail outlets participated in a pilot EFTPOS scheme. The scheme was run by the Network for Electronic Transfers (S) Pte. Ltd., a company formed by five of the largest banks in Singapore at the time: Development Bank of Singapore, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation, Overseas Union Bank, United Overseas Bank and Post Office Savings Bank.19 Retailers participating in the trial included Bata, C. K. Tang, Cold Storage, Fitzpatrick’s, John Little, Metro Golden Mile, NTUC Fairprice, Oriental Emporium, Printemps, Times Publishing, Yaohan, Denny’s restaurant, petrol companies such as British Petroleum, Caltex, Esso, Mobil, Shell and Singapore Petroleum Company, as well as selected government departments like the Immigration Office at Joo Chiat Complex, Public Utilities Board, Telecoms and Toa Payoh Hospital. In addition, participants were able to pay for season bus passes at the Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Jurong East and Toa Payoh bus interchanges.20

On 17 January 1986, EFTPOS was officially launched for the 1.1 million ATM cardholders in Singapore.21



Author
Marsita Omar



References
1. Drive towards a cashless society. (1985, March 12). The Singapore Monitor, p. 6; Government steps up efforts to minimise cash transactions. (1985, March 13). The Business Times, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Kumar, S. (1985, October 29). Publicity blitz for cashless paymentsThe Straits Times, p. 36. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Minimising cash transactions will save government $24.5m. (1985, March 30). The Business Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. $250,000 campaign in March. (1985, January 5). The Straits Times, p. 15; Koh, A. (1985, March 13). Multi-revenue collection centres to go. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Towards faster and safer transactions. (1985, March 14). The Straits Times, p. 5; Koh, A. (1985, March 13). Multi-revenue collection centres to go. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Lee, Y. S. (1985, March 14). Speech by Mr Lee Yock Suan, Ag Minister for Labour, at the launching of the National Campaign to Minimise Cash Transactions at the Singapore Conference Hall on Thurs 14 March 85 at 11.30 am (p. 1). Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
7.
 Drive towards a cashless society. (1985, March 12). The Singapore Monitor, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Koh, A. (1985, March 15). Giro users to get rebatesThe Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Lim, S. N. (1985, March 8). Campaign to bring Singapore closer to cashless societyThe Business Times, p. 2; Drive towards a cashless society. (1985, March 12). The Singapore Monitor, p. 6; Koh, A. (1985, March 13). Multi-revenue collection centres to go. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Lim, S. N. (1985, March 8). Campaign to bring Singapore closer to cashless societyThe Business Times, p. 2; Drive towards a cashless society. (1985, March 12). The Singapore Monitor, p. 6; Koh, A. (1985, March 13). Multi-revenue collection centres to go. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Koh, A. (1985, March 13). Multi-revenue collection centres to go. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Government steps up efforts to minimise cash transactions. (1985, March 13). The Business Times, p. 16; Koh, A. (1985, August 14). Govt takes the lead in cashless driveThe Straits Times, p. 32. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Towards faster and safer transactions. (1985, March 14). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Plan to stagger all paydays by ’85. (1984, November 13). The Singapore Monitor, p. 4; Towards faster and safer transactions. (1985, March 14). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Koh, A. (1985, August 14). Govt takes the lead in cashless driveThe Straits Times, p. 32; Lim, S. N. (1985, March 8). Campaign to bring Singapore closer to cashless societyThe Business Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Koh, A. (1985, September 10). $500,000 blitz to boost GiroThe Straits Times, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Government steps up efforts to minimise cash transactions. (1985, March 13). The Business Times, p. 16; Koh, A. (1985, March 13). Multi-revenue collection centres to go. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Ho, C. B. (1985, November 12). Pilot run still on trial. The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Ho, C. B. (1985, November 12). Pilot run still on trial. The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Singaporeans to put cashless shopping to the test today. (1985, June 27). The Business Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Balan, A. (1985, April 20). EFTPOS aims for one million users. The Business Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 2007 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.


 

Subject
Cash transactions--Singapore
Events>>National Campaigns
Minimise Cash Transactions Campaign, Singapore, 1985-1987
Electronic funds transfers--Singapore
National campaigns
Business, finance and industry>>Management>>Financial management>>Cash management