Cashless dining is rapidly gaining popularity worldwide1. This innovative payment method has opened up new avenues in daily transactions between restaurateurs and consumers, allowing merchants to increase their point-of-sale transactions2.

There are two forms of cashless dining. The first form is the ‘traditional’ mode of payment, where the amount is deducted straight from the individual’s bank account. An example of such payment is transacting using credit and debit cards, which have even expanded to mobile applications such as Apple Pay and Samsung Pay3. The other form of payment refers to using a loadable card (“prepaid”) within certain premises, where the consumer loads the card with monetary value to transact. This practice has been implemented in Singapore’s largest food court chain, Kopitiam. It offers this cashless dining option island-wide. The food court serves popular local foods such as chicken rice and roasted duck noodles.

Consumers have become more technologically savvy as there is a paradigm shift in lifestyles4. According to the 2016 Visa Consumer Payment Attitudes study, consumers in Asia Pacific were more comfortable with electronic payments due to convenience in quicker transactions5. Diners prefer to transact faster, eliminating long queues and delayed payments at counters.

To cope with the shortage of labor in the food and beverage industry, eateries have adopted this technology within their operational capabilities and opted for cashless payments6. With cashless dining options, restaurateurs can save on daily operating costs and plan their manpower allocation more efficiently7. Furthermore, electronic handling of payment reduces chances of human error such as over-billing, under-billing and providing wrong change to customers. Restaurateurs can consider implementing an integrated cashless program to understand their customers’ purchase patterns8.

In Bangkok, the MBK food court offers cashless dining conveniently to diners. The food court offers local Thai dishes such as Thai green curry, chicken noodles, chicken basil with rice and many more. Patrons approach the service desk located in front of the food court and receive a card to use within the food court. They can add value to the card from as low as US$5. Once they have completed their meals, they can return the cards back to the staff. Any outstanding amount will be refunded fully to the customers9. This is especially useful for tourists who are not familiar with the country’s local currency.

In Kuala Lumpur, Berjaya Times Square has more than 1,000 shops operating in the mall10. Taste of Asia is a popular food court that functions similarly as the MBK food court in Bangkok. It offers chicken satay, chicken rice, duck rice and nasi lemak with chicken cutlets. To transact, diners would have to purchase a prepaid card available in various denominations starting from approximately US$211.

Similarly in Singapore, hawker centers are commonly known as kopitiams, which stands for coffee shop12. Kopitiam is one of the biggest coffee shop chains in Singapore, with 76 outlets operating island-wide13. All of their outlets offer consumers the option of paying through cash or through the reloadable Kopitiam card. The card works by having the customers pay a non-refundable fee of approximately US$114. The card is valid for two years and available for renewal upon expiry15.

1 Channel NewsAsia. (2016). More vending machine cafes, cashless payment at coffee shops under new food industry roadmap. [online] Available at: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/more-vending-machine-cafes-cashless-payment-at-coffee-shops-unde-7806026

2  Gulf News. (2016). The rising trend of cashless payments. [online] Available at: http://gulfnews.com/business/sectors/banking/the-rising-trend-of-cashless-payments-1.1863595

3 Time. (2015). Mobile Payments Showdown: Apple Pay vs. Android Pay vs. Samsung Pay. [online] Available at: http://time.com/money/4068133/apple-samsung-android/

4 Whereoware. (2014). Today’s Tech-Savvy Consumer- Adapt or Be Left Behind. [online] Available at: http://www.whereoware.com/blog/todays-tech-savvy-consumer-adapt-or-be-left-behind/2014/10/

5 Today. (2017). Cashless payments on the rise in Singapore: Visa survey. [online] Available at: http://www.todayonline.com/business/cashless-payments-rise-spore-visa-survey

5 unichange. (u.d). Disadvantages and advantages of electronic payment system. [online] Available at: https://unichange.me/articles/advantages_of_electronic_

6 Channel NewsAsia. (2015). More F&B outlets in Singapore going high-tech amid manpower crunch. [online] Available at: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/more-f-amp-b-outlets-in-singapore-going-high-tech-amid-manpower–8231064

7 Dualtron. (2011). Benefits of Cashless Payment Systems to your Company. [online] Available at: http://www.dualtron.ie/benefits-of-cashless-payment-systems-to-your-company/

8 ToastTab. (2016). The Pros and Cons of Cashless Restaurants and a Cashless Society. [online] Available at: https://pos.toasttab.com/blog/cashless-restaurants

9 Fit Travels. (2017). 37 Tips For Your First Trip To Bangkok. [online] Available at: http://www.fittravels.com/37-tips-first-trip-to-bangkok/

10 Berjaya Times Square. (u.d). About Us. [online] Available at: https://www.berjayatimessquarekl.com/about-us

11 The Sun Daily. (2011). Food Court with a difference. [online] Available at: http://www.thesundaily.my/node/133801

12 Remember Singapore. (2011). Singapore Kopitiam Culture. [online] Available at: https://remembersingapore.org/2011/02/17/singapore-kopitiam-culture/

13 Kopitiam (u.d). All Outlets. [online] Available at: http://www.kopitiam.biz/search-results/

14 Kopitiam True Singapore Taste. (2016). [online] Available at: https://m.facebook.com/kopitiamtst/posts/1772951042933026

15 Kopitiam (u.d) FAQ. [online] Available at: http://www.kopitiam.biz/faq/