Last updated: 13 March 2023

Published on: 01 December 2017


Silver Infocomm Wellness Ambassadors (SIWAs) are all ready to help fellow seniors embrace technology to prepare for a cashless future.

SIWA workshop
SIWA workshop
Some highlights of the fun SIWA annual networking event.

By Tan Soon Meng


Making cashless top-ups of EZ-Link cards is no big deal for most. But many seniors are reluctant to give up queuing with cash in hand at a Passenger Service Centre to get their cards topped up.

Even IT-savvy SIWA Randy Sng, 63, and a credit card user since the 1980s, admitted that “until a year ago, I went to the office to top up my EZ-Link card using cash”. But now, he tops up at ticketing machines using his credit card, having found it “a very easy transition”.

SIWAs are seniors aged 50 and above who are recognised for their active IT lifestyle, and efforts to inspire and encourage their peers to use technology to enhance their daily lives.

Randy, a SIWA from the first batch in 2012, has observed that the transition is harder for many seniors who have “fear of walking up to a machine with no one there, fear of making the wrong transaction and fear that the machine will swallow their card”.

Networking with a purpose

Together with about 50 other SIWAs, Randy attended the SIWA Annual Networking event jointly organised by IMDA and the People’s Association (PA) at PA Headquarters on 20 October.

SIWA workshop
Dr Tan Yong Seng (PBM), Vice Chairman of the PA Active Ageing Council.

While the theme was cashless payments, fun was the order of the day. After the buffet dinner, the event’s facilitator Sean O’Hara set the tone with his lively “swearing in”, getting everyone to promise to participate.

Dr Tan Yong Seng (PBM), Vice Chairman of the PA Active Ageing Council, continued the lively tone, recounting how his sister embraced social media after being taught by her children and grandchildren. He drew laughter when he said he is now “very scared” when his sister travels, because “every day she sends 70 to 80 pictures of her scenery and her eating”.

Dr Tan also made it a point to mention that SIWAs helped with a successful project to conduct homebound IT workshops for less mobile seniors in Punggol North.

Robin Sih, a Business Operations Executive at TransitLink, continued the evening’s light feel with a story of his mother embracing smartphones. “I told my mum she can check 4D!” he said.

He also shared developments in Singapore’s e-payment vision for public transport by 2020. For example, in March this year, Account-Based Ticketing (ABT) – which allows commuters to use their contactless credit or debit cards to pay for bus and train fares – was rolled out. By April 2018, the shift from cash top-ups at Passenger Service Centres to ticketing machines will be completed.

However, cash top-ups will still be available at TransitLink Ticket Offices and General Ticketing Machines.

Ahead of the cashless curve

SIWA workshop
Robin Sih from TransitLink answering questions about Singapore's shift to a cashless public transport system.

The following Q&A session was nothing short of energetic. Here are just some of the SIWAs’ insightful questions, with paraphrased answers from Robin and his colleagues:

Q: “What about the blind when these changes are made? I’m blind.”
A: “You can approach the staff at Passenger Service Centre, who will still assist on a case-by-case basis.”

Q: “Will DBS Paylah! be accepted?”
A: “Mobile contactless payment at fare gates are currently being tested by LTA.”

Q: “Can we send a record of our trips to ourselves?”
A: “Those who wish to have an email copy of their travel records can get it from TransitLink’s Add Value Machines.”

Q: “What about ABT for concession card holders?”
A: “After the launch of ABT for MasterCard holders, LTA will certainly work on ABT for concession card holders.

The questions raised showed that SIWAs are ahead of the curve in adopting technology and cashless payments — and are in a hurry to go further.

The key is to keep at IT

SIWA workshop
SIWA Anjelay Devi.

It bears remembering that not all seniors are like SIWAs.

SIWA Anjelay Devi, 57, who works as an Active Neighbour at POSB Bank and herself uses NETS and DBS Paylah!, is sympathetic to those less nimble with IT. 

“It takes them more time to key in PIN numbers, and before they can complete, the machine flashes ‘Do you need more time?’ and the seniors say, ‘gone!’ and ‘give up’.”

Anjelay believes the key is to keep at it.

“Many people who at first feel it is difficult say it is so easy now. The third time, they say, ‘it’s so easy, thank you, thank you, I know what to do’.”

With the help of SIWAs like Anjelay and Randy, and the suggestions from other SIWAs at the event, senior citizens are in good hands as Singapore moves towards a cashless future.


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