It could prove to be the death knell of notes and coins.
Singapore is to phase in e-money and force all its businesses to accept it as legal tender by 2008.
Financial transactions will be made using money stored on computer chips. Cash will be a thing of the past as money changes hands electronically using digital pulses transferred through mobile phones, hand-held computers and even watches.
A shopper will be able to point a mobile phone at an item to register the price. The phone would check the shopper's bank balance on the Internet and deduct the money from the account if it was told to buy the item. Singapore's government says the move will save a small fortune on the labour, security and transportation costs involved in making and moving notes and coins.
'The physical notes and coins will be a thing of the past,' said Low Siang Kok, currency director at Singapore's Board of Commissioners of Currency. .There's no point in fighting technology.
If you want to give your kids pockel money, you pass it to them by phone. They can use it for bus fares, in the school cafeteria, or whatever.' E-money will differ from credit or debit cards, which are commercial products issued by banks, he said, arguing thal it would also be safer to carry around and could be protected by passwords, codes and other security features.
Singapore's government is a strong believer in e-commerce and is setting up a high-speed broadband Internet network to link all homes, schools, businesses and government offices electronically.
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