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Singapore consumers move towards cashless, cautious spending: StanChart poll

SINGAPORE consumers are shifting towards online banking and online shopping amid the coronavirus pandemic, while also pivoting to better money management and mindful spending, a survey by Standard Chartered (StanChart) has found.

The effects of the Covid-19 outbreak has "led to the emergence of a cashless and cautious consumer", the bank said in a press statement on Wednesday.

StanChart polled 12,000 consumers aged 18 and above, across 12 markets - including Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, US and UK - on their spending habits after the onset of the Covid-19 outbreak. The survey was conducted between Aug 17 and Aug 21.

Respondents in all 12 markets said they expect to do more of their shopping online from now on. In Singapore, consumers that prefer online purchases to in-person card or cash payments increased to 50 per cent, up from 35 per cent before the pandemic.

This increase in popularity of online transactions was consistent across a range of purchases, be it groceries, travel or digital devices, StanChart said. Nearly eight in 10 respondents in Singapore expect the country to go fully cashless in the next decade.

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Meanwhile, about four out of five in Singapore said the pandemic has made them more careful with their spending, above the global average of 75 per cent. Individuals aged 45 and above were more likely to be more cautious than those aged 18 to 44, according to the poll.

In line with the global trend of consumers moving their expenditure towards essentials and digital devices, Singapore respondents have also been prioritising their needs over wants. Consumers in the city-state said they spent about 25-52 per cent more on groceries, digital devices and healthcare, but spent less on clothes, experiences and travel or holidays.

Almost eight in 10 respondents in Singapore said they would like to be better at managing their finances, which reflected the increase in caution when it comes to expenditure, StanChart said.

Six in 10 also said the economic impact of the pandemic has made them more likely to track their spending.

Most of the respondents are either using or interested in using budgeting tools as well as tools to track expenditure.

Dwaipayan Sadhu, StanChart head of retail banking, Singapore said the pandemic has reshaped spending behaviour. The bank's digital money-management tool, SC Money Manager, has seen "very strong" client adoption amid growing interest in better personal financial management, he added.

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