A message to the older generation.
Going cashless has been quite a big debate in recent years. With countless questions and angles considered. It finally feels like we might be on the cusp on a massive technological breakthrough when it comes to cashless transactions. Even after countless movements, and attempts at pushing technological thinking forward, countries like Singapore still have a large population adverse towards 100% cashless adoption.
(I’ve personally realized that Singapore as a nation tends to progress if their people have been provoked/insulted, challenged (especially by our neighbors) or as usual, the government finally gets with the times and enforces something.)
The argument of leaving the older generation behind is a ever relevant one.
A recent incident in China has highlighted the problems with moving forward too quickly. An elderly man, attempting to pay with cash, met with harsh criticism and attack by the store owner refusing to accept anything other than payment through Wechat. The man, furious as their reaction and abuse was enraged at the lack of empathy towards him, his age, etc.
Writer Xiao Ao (小奥) published an article titled: “Sorry, as you’re already over 70, you’re not fit to keep on living” [“对不起，由于你已经超过70岁，你已经不适合活下去了!”]. In the article, Xiao voiced her frustration over how difficult it was for her 90-year-old grandfather to receive a package she had mailed him.
Not accepting cash should be controlled & cracked down on. Although culturally this will remain an issue for years to come, it is inevitable that this will become a smaller issue as time pasts.
On the other hand, it truly amazes me that in China. The technology has officially started to move BEYOND the older generation. It has literally STARTED to leave them behind. If you really think about it, it’s CRAZY!!! The level of adoption that is needed for that to happen is insane! The businesses, the people, the number of cultures, villages, the number of websites, it’s endless! All adopting something created in 2011. It’s unbelievable. I pity that old man. I truly do. It will forever be a debate. But it will also soon turn into just another story of a person who failed to adapt to change fast enough.
Key differences I’ve realized living in and reading about China and Singapore is quite unique. Firstly, businesses and people in Singapore will never be able to put their ego aside to work in a united system. This will forever be a flaw that keeps Singapore as a country behind and unable to lead as the most progressed South East Asian country the past 50 years.
Singaporeans are educated to think that they know better than others. Everybody was bred and told that they can do something better for their whole lives. Almost at no point are people humbled because most suffer from tunnel vision time and time again. The worse part? Foreigners who come to Singapore and get educated in Singapore adopt this horrible mantra and tend to suffer from tunnel vision themselves.
Why does this lack of unity matter? Because of the sheer number of apps that I need to download for the easiest of things (For example. It applies to many other industries as well). The simple fact that I need to download a new freaking app for every freaking restaurant I go to is ridiculous. It’s impossible to get something going when there are 100 other competitors undercutting & giving outrageous promotions to make customers continuously jump ship. Businesses & journalists blame the Millennial generation for this problem. I believe however that the lack of loyalty in Singapore is not a generational issue but rather a business/social cultural issue created by greed.
My question is, why has government failed to take the lead in implementing these things?
Why are they not limiting these countless creations and somehow promoting a sort of unity that these companies should work together and build on? Let’s be honest here, the government are the ones who can make real change happen. Thinking otherwise is naive.
-Elon Musk & Tesla is a great example of a man trying to make change alone. Is he making much of an impact? No. Is he cool though? Absolutely. Would he be able to do these things if he was not rich? ……Was that a real question?-
The Singapore government avoids working with these companies and tends to build their OWN apps on top of these competitors. Making things even MORE annoying & confusing. While adding on their “budget constraints”, they usually execute a far poorer final product to the market that customers end up just avoiding overall. Why get others to do it when I can do it myself? <- Tends to be a common way of thinking in Singapore in general.
China on the other hand, controversially closed its borders to numerous competitors. Forcing their local market to innovate, improve and grow. Encourage their locals to support local and look where the state of the country is today? When it comes to technology, even farmers execute their transaction through WECHAT. While in Singapore, CEO’s getting paid 50k a month has problems opening a PDF file. I know of people who are still afraid of making online transactions (Because hackers just love to hack people with $3000 dollar bank accounts).
Don’t get me wrong. There will always be a group that aren’t afraid of change. But until government and big corporations start to see the bigger picture and put their greed aside,100% adoption will never happen. And 100% adoption should be the goal & not some naive dream.
China is leading the way while other countries are still running around like headless chickens afraid to make hard decisions and rock waves. Wechat is a Beast. The Chinese government is a beast. Controversial? Sure. But you cannot ignore their growth, strength & influence. Who cares if they “copied” other companies to create their own apps/businesses. They improved, did it better & executed it better. Period. Nobody cares about who copies who, etc. The original Apple Ipod copied technology from a local Singaporean brand, Creative. Where is Apple today VS Creative?
The problems I see ahead, especially in Singapore, is quite simply a lack of cohesion. Everyone’s quest to be on top has slowed down progress severely. Unless a government force steps in and takes charge of the situation, it will forever be hard for a country to fully adopt these changes. Businesses and individuals will forever do battle to be the market leader. Once a company fully dominates, i.e. Breadtalk creates an application that goes BEYOND their own companies & enters other F&B businesses, we will see the true power of what technology holds.
When people think and talk about companies like Alibaba. They tend to focus on things that truly don’t matter. The ease of order/use. The amount of money Jack Ma made from this company. Blah blah blah. Look deeper. How much work the Alibaba need to put in, to get that many suppliers on their platform? That amount of support they would have needed to unite that number of companies, businesses, industries and individuals (ACROSS DIFFERENT COUNTRIES) to make their brand a success? It is truly insane to think about.
Companies like NETs (1985), EZLINK (2002), etc in Singapore have been incredibly poor in paving a way forward. Lagging in the race to be truly cashless, these companies have been lazy and have only recently tried to make small changes to potentially get things going. The fact is that, with the amount of data these two companies hold, they could easily dominate every single competitor on the market.
I personally feel it’s the same old story of the rich on top, avoiding the need to spend on improvements, ensuring maximum “profits” to protect their bank accounts when it comes to bonus day.
But, not surprisingly there has been next to no new improvements for the past 10 to 15 years? Or more even. Nothing impressive has changed at least (The Marvel pictures on the EZ-link cards, might be the most innovative thing they have done since the Hello Kitty cards). The problem a lot of the time starts with hiring the wrong people on top ain’t it? The vision always starts great, but the moment the money starts flowing in, greed kicks in, things slow down and overall, customers get taken for granted.
Disagree with my points?
“If there are nine rabbits on the ground, if you want to catch one, just focus on one.” — Jack Ma
China is focused. Baidu. Alibaba. Tencent. Didi. Huawei. Xiaomi.
They are now leading the blockchain/crypto race as well.
Singapore is a pretty lucky country. Overall, our people should not take our situations for granted & stay in comfort. We are only in this position of ease due to the hustle & sacrifice of the few generations before us.
The young should never let the older generation keep us in comfort. The youth often suffer from analysis paralysis and we should always challenge regardless of success or failure.
The middle aged should be versatile. Young enough to adapt and stay out of comfort while being old & wise enough to always be learning.
The old should never stop learning. Understand that 2019 is a very different world and if you fail to continue learning, things will move too fast for you to catch up. Then all you’d be doing is holding the generation after you behind.
Although it is true, some people are ok with the way things are. But the fact is simple & undeniable. You cannot ignore change & going cashless is inevitable. Security will improve year after year. Speed will increase year after year. Seamlessness across apps and platforms will improve year after year. You cannot turn a blind eye towards it. Things are moving faster and faster and it’s time everyone stops fighting it, and not only just learn but execute these changes at a faster pace.
Educate yourself. Stay ahead of the curve & don’t get left behind.
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