IN THE wake of Monday's Pennywise robbery attempt in La Romaine – which left six people dead, including two security guards and four bandits – the head of the San Fernando Greater Chamber of Commerce says the time is right for more businesses to go cashless.
Kiran Singh said the motive behind the robbery attempt was to steal cash and he feels if more and more businesses go digital, in terms of payment transactions, it could be a major deterrent to these kinds of violent crimes.
In a phone interview with Newsday, Singh said many countries around the world had switched to cashless transactions and with a major push for Trinidad and Tobago to move more and more towards a digitised society, businesses should adopt this approach as well.
He said while some companies, especially those whose businesses largely involved delivery of their products, such as bread and beer, had long moved to cashless transactions, the pandemic forced many more to go the route of digital payment, especially at the height of public health restrictions.
“We have seen certain businesses go straight from cash to cashless transactions. Cigarette vans and bread vans have stopped accepting cash. Their workers walk with portable machines that digitally process the payment transactions.
“What we need now (given rising crime) is to expand on that technology so there is no actual cash leaving a business enterprise to the bank. This would, of course, reduce danger to security personnel, business owners and customers," Singh said.
He added that a cashless transaction system could also reduce the fear some people may have in shopping areas. Singh said a cashless system would reduce the "soft targets" bandits prey on.
“It also speaks to the customer base of the general public, where we should also embark on using more debit cards to purchase goods and services, since the technology is easily available.”
Noting that not everyone can afford a credit card, Singh said the debit card system ought to be used.
For those who do not have a debit card, some kind of convenient payment system can be devised to reduce the petty theft element as well, he suggested.
“In this way we can assist the police in curbing crime, because it is really, really, out of control now.”
Singh added that when violent incidents occur, such as the Pennywise robbery attempt, it can make businessmen think twice about doing business in this country and "rob" the public of a greater variety of goods and services.
There is a fear factor for both the consumer and the businessman, he said.
Singh was also critical of security companies that provide cash-in-transit services with security personnel who are not properly resourced in terms of basic tools and equipment such as armoured vehicles and bulletproof vests.
He warned that society must accept that bandits and other criminals are equipped with powerful weapons.
The police found two AR-15 assault rifles, pistols as well as bulletproof vests after the shootout with the four bandits.