Singapore stands on the cusp of becoming a cashless society and if it succeeds, it would join the ranks of China, India and Sweden. While many are aware of Singapore’s active pursuit of a cashless society, not as many know about the benefits and challenges that it can bring to the society as a whole.
On top of paying through cards, apps and mobile wallets, the maturing digital currencies should not be left out of the cashless equation as well. The pros brought about by a cashless payment system benefits not just the users, but also the merchants and the government.
Singapore recently announced that Razer, Inc. has presented a solution to Singapore’s national electronic payment system — something the company promised Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong two weeks ago, soon after he declared that the city-state is lagging behind other countries and announced his visionary project to catch up with China and India in terms of electronic commerce.
The company, easily recognized for its distinctive green trefoil serpent logo and known for cool devices such as chromatically-backlit keyboards, high-resolution mice with a dozen buttons and headphones with 3D speakers, has proposed a two-pronged plan that includes, among other things, the development of a proprietary electronic system called Razerpay.
Razerpay, a project that Razer estimates would cost about $7.4 million, will be aimed at “end-users, consumers and businesses in Singapore to establish an e-payment, cashless service to accept digital transactions over cash instruments,” according to an Asia One report. In a nod to the company’s motto “for gamers, by gamers,” Razerpay will be branded as developed “for Singaporeans, by Singaporeans.”Keep in mind here that I’m describing the theory and thinking behind why people would try this—not what I currently believe or what is necessarily true. The idea behind adopting the Uberman sleep schedule is that REM sleep is the only stage of sleep that actually matters (that’s when your body is recovering and healing itself). Since we typically only spend about 20% of our time asleep in REM, the goal is to cut out the remaining 80% and “hack” your body to gain the full benefit of several hours of sleep in only a fraction of the time. In a normal adult, it takes somewhere around ninety minutes after you fall asleep to enter your first REM cycle; this means that once you start only taking twenty to forty minute naps every few hours, you will be getting no REM sleep at all, and you will become sleep deprived. Eventually your body will be desperate enough that it will start entering REM sleep as soon as your head hits the pillow for your naps. The theory is that after a few weeks or months of acclimation, your body should completely adapt to these new instant-REM naps. If you’re doing twenty minutes every three hours, that adds up to a total of over two and a half hours of REM sleep per day—a typical seven-hour-a-night sleeper spending 20% of their time in REM is getting less than an hour and a half. You’d actually be getting more REM during your 160 minutes per day of sleep than someone sleeping seven hours. This surplus of REM sleep is attributed by people who claim to be living on this schedule to feeling more awake and alive than ever—sharper wits, clearer minds, and significantly increased productivity beyond what would be expected by just having a few extra hours awake each day. Other purported benefits are that your dreams are richer, more vivid, and often lucid (meaning you can consciously control them while they are occurring). Basically everything is awesome. Why would anyone not want to do this? Well, if you saw the Seinfeld episode, you might have a few ideas why.
Yet as cool as the technology may be, the shift toward a cashless society raises more questions than just “what technology will we use?” Singapore’s Parliament will take up one of those major questions when it meets again on September 11.
According to Channel NewsAsia, the Parliament will gather to discuss how the fancy new payment tech will affect the elderly, who are used to paying with old-school coins and bank notes.
Asia One’s Nicole Ng raises another question: how will electronic payment affect children’s perception of money? Without seeing money actually coming and going through their parents’ hands, how would children learn how to save and not to overspend?
Because of the strict schedule that’s necessary to get healthy sleep using biphasic or polyphasic sleep patterns, these routines can be socially limiting. Remember, switching to these sleep patterns means putting yourself squarely at odds with society at large. You’re likely to regularly face difficult choices between participation in social and professional activities, and getting the sleep you need at its appointed time. Anyone with a proclivity for depression or other mental health disorders should not adopt these sleep patterns. I’ve seen people who are predisposed to depression use biphasic sleep and go on to develop major depressive disorder, or MDD. Depression and other mood disorders are associated with disruptions to circadian rhythms, as well as with disrupted sleep patterns and poor-quality sleep. Attempting to use a segmented sleep schedule could destabilize sleep patterns and circadian rhythm, worsening sleep and exacerbating mood disorders.
This all happened about a dozen years ago, so some of the details are a little hazy now. I will recount what I can to the best of my recollection. I decided on the twenty minute naps every three hours schedule (by far the most popular among the various accounts I read at the time). At first my experience pretty much followed the expected path—I felt groggy and sleep deprived (to the point of hallucination) over the first three days or so. I was definitely falling asleep during my naps, because waking up to my alarm when it went off was becoming extremely difficult, but I wasn’t experiencing any dreams. I did manage to stick to the schedule—no slip ups or over-sleeping at all until much closer to the end of the experiment. I think it was around the third or fourth day that I started to dream during my naps, meaning I had finally started entering REM sleep again. And what dreams they were! The accounts of extremely vivid lucid dreaming were pretty much spot on for me. I started looking forward to the naps not only because I was so damn tired all the time, but now also because the dreams were amazing. Bringing it back around to Star Trek, it was like living in my own personal holodeck for twenty minutes at a time—complete conscious control over whatever was going on in the dreams, and a body and mind so exhausted that I didn’t wake up like I usually do when I suddenly become aware that I’m dreaming. Of course, I was still very obviously sleep deprived and dead tired between naps, but the daytime visual and auditory hallucinations did go away shortly after the dreaming started.
Other legislative obstacles may keep Singaporeans close to their cash. According to The Straits Times, both buyers and the merchants have to pay a surcharge to use existing electronic payment systems, which may vary from 10 to 25 percent for the former and almost 4 percent for the latter. Plus, people are only allowed to use their debit cards after a certain amount of money is spent — a concept that the UK only recently decided to ditch entirely.
In addition, Singapore’s most extensive payment system, a 30-year-old relic known as the Nets, takes at least one day to process your payment. Other payment systems will take even longer, the Straits Times reports, and technical mistakes leading to wrongful charges could stretch times out even more.