Putting the ‘Convenience’ Back into Convenience Stores

Amidst a growing tide of cashless solutions, soCash is working with Singapore’s neighbourhood merchants to bridge the city-state’s cash demand gap even further.

Picture this: It’s getting late in Singapore, but you forgot to stock up on essentials on the way back from work. You decide to pop out to the closest convenience store that’s still open. On the way there, you realise that you don’t have enough cash on you, yet there are no ATMs nearby that you can quickly withdraw your money from. Plus, you can’t even use the e-payment app on your phone at that particular merchant.

So, in the end, you head back home and wait until the next day, when it’s more convenient for you to get your cash to buy groceries.

How many of us can relate to this scenario?

Previously on CiTA-CiTA, we discussed how – despite the growth in the number of e-payment options springing up in Singapore – many in the city-state still prefer using cash for their daily purchases. Despite calls from the government and financial institution incumbents to cultivate a cashless society, the fact that e-payment solutions are still not ubiquitous enough between the country’s smaller merchants means that having cash is still more preferable when you’re in a tight spot.

This is a market gap which FinTech start-up soCash has been working to fill.

Its mobile app, which was launched in 2017, works by users selecting the amount they wish to withdraw and selecting a nearby merchant to collect their cash from. The cashier will then scan the unique QR code on the app without the need for an ATM card or a PIN code. The service is secure, convenient and available around the clock and provides access to a “cardless” cash withdrawal network for the some of Singapore’s biggest banks following – DBS, POSB and Standard Chartered.

And it isn’t like more conventional cashback options, as the app doesn’t require its users to make a purchase at the selected store. This is as the fees which soCash charges banks for its service are disbursed electronically to these retailers.

Having already tied-up partnerships with a host of retailers around the country, soCash has expanded its solutions to even more people after inking a partnership with the world’s largest convenience store chain: 7-Eleven.

Through this collaboration, soCash’s proprietary digital cash circulation platform has been integrated into 7-Eleven’s network of 370 stores located island-wide.  This enables shoppers to effortlessly withdraw money by just using the soCash app at any 7-Eleven outlet.

But while this is fostering better financial inclusion for those who still prefer using cash, soCash is doing the same for homegrown retailers who – traditionally – have been left behind during Singapore’s cashless drive.

After growing its distributed cash network to more than 1,000 locations in Singapore via its partnership with 7-Eleven, soCash most recently struck a deal with neighbourhood grocery chain HAO Mart. By integrating the FinTech start-up’s proprietary mobile cash management system into its point-of-sale (POS) devices, HAO Mart has turned its stores into one-stop retail spots that also allow for ATM-less cash withdrawals.

While this can go a long way to generate more footfall to HAO Mart’s 40 stores around the island – helping it to better thrive and survive in Singapore’s cutthroat retail industry – the fact the grocers stores are concentrated in the heartlands means that people won’t need to head into the city to stock-up on necessities. This is as HAO Mart isn’t your typical neighbourhood convenience store; it offers a full range of grocery products that also includes fresh meat, seafood and vegetables.

So, while many have been gearing up for a cashless revolution, such an ecosystem remains on the horizon. Cash, for now, is still king and we cannot ignore its demand by people who are still not ready or don’t have the means to go completely cashless.

By working with major banks and retailers across the country, soCash is ensuring that both consumers and retailers can still enjoy the benefits of FinTech innovation while not sacrificing their preference for cash.

Want to find out more about how a small FinTech start-up is disrupting Singapore’s cash management infrastructure? Click here to listen to our podcast interview with soCash Founder & CEO, Hari Sivan.

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