Mahadevan pointed to several reasons why many people still preferred using cash.
First, there wasn’t enough information about each digital payment method, he said. For example, there are various e-wallets, such as PayPal, and also in-app payment systems, such as GrabPay or Uber pay, or digital currencies, including bitcoin.
Yet, many people don’t have a clear understanding of what each payment option does and what kind of value it can provide, Mahadevan said. Conversely, cash is a straight-forward option in use for centuries.
The complexity of setting up a digital wallet or any other online-payment method, such as additional security measures, could also turn people away from using them, according to Mahadevan.
On top of that, concerns over privacy were always a priority, with users wondering if their financial records will be kept safe, he said.
Recently, there have been cyberattacks where hackers made away with millions of dollars worth of digital currencies, for example. Those incidents inspire little confidence in using digital wallets.
“When anybody has a lack of information, they are typically scared about it and they don’t want to go and address it,” said Mahadevan.
But he added that once people start using the wallets, they move up the learning curve “very quickly,” so getting people on the first rung was key to driving usage.
The answer, he said, required a collective effort from both the government and the private sector to educate users about digital-payment options.
Additionally, service providers needed to simplify the steps required to sign up for a digital wallet, while keeping it easy to use and secure, he said.
Finally, merchants needed to provide incentives, such as rewards, for payments made with a digital wallet or possible disincentives for traditional methods.
“It’s a combination of things that need to come together … I don’t think one industry or one group can achieve the rapid scale of it,” said Mahadevan.