More than 1 million households claimed CDC vouchers in 3 weeks: Low Yen Ling

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SINGAPORE: More than 1 million Singaporean households have claimed their Community Development Council (CDC) vouchers within three weeks of launch, Trade and Industry Minister Low Yen Ling said on Wednesday (Jan. 25).

That’s more than 80 percent of Singapore households, she said, adding that the speed and pace at which the vouchers have been claimed “speaks to the positive reception” of the scheme.

The 2023 CDC Vouchers Scheme, marking the third tranche of digitally distributed vouchers, was launched on January 3.

“We have received positive and favorable feedback as this amount is an increased amount,” Ms Low told CNA938 during a Tech Talk segment

Each Singaporean household was given S$300 which can be used at shops in the heart of the city and at hawker stalls and five supermarket chains. Households got S$100 each in the previous digitally distributed tranches.

Ms Low, who is also chair of the mayor’s committee and mayor of the South West District, gave an update on the previous two tranches and said that 97.5 per cent of Singapore’s 1.22 million households were claiming the vouchers worth S $222 million.

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The vouchers go “a long way” to cover the household expenses of Singaporeans, she said.

“At the same time, the way it’s been designed in conjunction with GovTech and many other government agencies, it actually catalyzes spending in the domestic businesses and also the peddlers,” she said.

There are 20,300 merchants and peddlers island-wide participating in the scheme, Ms Low added.

DESIGNING THE VOUCHER SCHEME

The vouchers were first distributed digitally in December 2021, with 1.3 million households receiving S$100 each. More vouchers were paid out in May last year.

GovTech Ms Charmaine Lee said the vouchers were designed to be inclusive.

“It’s a really intentional design… to make sure we don’t leave anyone behind, even as we move towards a digital scheme,” said Ms. Lee, the product manager for Redeem SG under the Open Government Products team.

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Two of the considerations were that residents should be able to have a paper alternative if they don’t have a cell phone, and that they don’t have to download a mobile app to use the vouchers, she said.

Before the launch of the first tranche, her team, along with the CDCs, conducted eight user tests to ensure the vouchers were easy to use, she added.

“What we found was that fixed denominations are much easier to use compared to a wallet model and this also allows residents to use their vouchers in the same way whether they use digital vouchers or paper vouchers,” she said.

The team was also keen to ensure that accepting the vouchers is a simple process for the businesses, Ms Lee said.

“It’s very fast. If you’ve spent on your own vouchers or if you’ve seen other people spend vouchers, it takes less than a second to scan the customers’ vouchers,” she said.

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THE JOURNEY TO ADOPTION

Although the scheme has the support of the companies, it was no easy feat.

“It really is a very, very massive exercise to get on board one by one,” said Ms Low, adding that the merchants and peddlers needed persuasion.

The exercise required them to show each peddler and trader what the plan is about, and teach them how to install and use the app, she said.

The merchants and peddlers have proved to be the strongest ambassadors for the scheme, telling their customers about the vouchers and encouraging them to use the alternative method of payment instead of cash, Ms Low said.

“They are now actually our most convincing ambassadors. I am very happy to see that and we believe it has also helped catalyze the further digitization of both our peddlers and our core businesses,” she said.

Tech Talk with Daniel Martin airs weekdays at 3pm on CNA938.

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