DBS/POSB extends weekly hawker meal subsidies for another six months amid rising costs

Singapore.17 Jan 2024

With the extension, the bank will subsidise a total of 7.5 million hawker meals over 18 months since February 2023

The first 100,000 who use PayLah! to pay for their hawker meals every Friday can continue to enjoy up to SGD 3 off till 26 July 2024

One in three who redeemed the subsidies so far are senior citizens and/or earning less than SGD 2,500 a month

Singapore, 17 Jan 2024 - DBS/POSB is extending its year-long 5 Million Hawker Meals initiative for another six months till 26 July 2024, subsidising a total of 7.5 million hawker meals over 18 months. Singaporeans and residents can continue to enjoy cashback of up to SGD 3 when they are among the first 100,000 to use the PayLah! app to scan and pay for their meals every Friday at over 11,600 hawker stalls with SGQR codes island-wide.

Customer using PayLah! to scan and pay for his meal at a hawker centre 

While core inflation and hawker food inflation slowed in November 2023 compared to a year ago, the latter remained sticky at 4.3% YoY[1]. In addition, consumers expect a slight negative impact on Singapore’s economic growth over the next 12 months given uncertainties stemming from geopolitical conflicts and strategic tensions, global growth prospects, and general cost-of-living pressures, among others[2]. They also expect their overall expenses to increase slightly over the same period[3].

Against this backdrop, the extension of weekly hawker meal subsidies seeks to ease Singaporeans and residents’ cost of living pressures, and is in line with the government’s focus on doing the same. Just yesterday, the Housing & Development Board (HDB) and Government Technology Agency (GTA) announced a new Great Budget Meal Hunt initiative to help users locate meals that are SGD 3.50 or less.

Mr Han Kwee Juan, Acting Chief Information Officer and Singapore Country Head at DBS, said: “We’re heartened that the weekly hawker meal subsidies have made a positive impact on our customers and hawkers over the past year. While we do see cautious signs of recovery on the horizon for 2024, we’re aware that ongoing economic uncertainties and inflation continue to be a concern for many. Our hope is that the subsidies will continue to provide some relief to those looking to better manage their everyday expenses and support our hawkers.”

Anchored in DBS/POSB’s commitment to give back to the community, the weekly hawker meal subsidies were first launched in February 2023 as part of the bank’s suite of support measures for customers amid rising everyday expenses. To intensify support for the low-income and underserved, the bank also announced last August that it is committing up to SGD 100 million per year over the next 10 years to improve their lives and livelihoods, and foster a more inclusive society.

Close to five million hawker meal subsidies have been redeemed so far. Among those who redeemed the subsidies, 33% are senior citizens[4] and/or earning less than SGD 2,500 a month.

Besides helping customers manage costs, this initiative has also sparked a positive ripple effect in the community by boosting participating hawkers’ businesses. To date, the three most popular hawker centres where redemptions were made were Amoy Street Food Centre, Pasar 216 Bedok Central and Boon Lay Place Food Village. The top three most popular hawker stalls were Hup Lee Cooked Food (Toa Payoh West Market & Food Centre), Tian Bo Shui Kueh Pte Ltd (84 Marine Parade Central Hawker Centre), and Hawstar (Kampung Admiralty Hawker Centre).

Ms Elayne Ang, Co-founder of Tian Kee Carrot Cake at Marine Parade Central Market and Food Centre, said: “We appreciate the initiative, which has left a tangible and very real benefit on us hawkers, and also our customers. We’re seeing a 10% to 15% jump in crowd traffic at the hawker centre every Friday, which has benefitted our business. It’s also nice to see how this initiative has indirectly encouraged more seniors to learn to use digital payments – we do see more seniors using the subsidy at our stall, which sometimes sparks others in the queue to want to learn how to redeem it too!”

The weekly hawker meal subsidies have also furthered the bank’s efforts to equip the less digitally-savvy with key skills and know-how to navigate a rapidly digitalising world. As part of a partnership between DBS Foundation and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) to drive digital inclusion, the bank regularly organises digital literacy workshops across the island, many of which are now held on Fridays at participating hawker centres. The workshops aim to help residents in these neighbourhoods learn how to access the subsidy and pick up other skills such as digital banking, cashless payments, and scam awareness, and to put what they have learned into practice by purchasing a meal from the stalls onsite. Altogether, over 400 digital literacy workshops have been run over the past year, benefitting some 59,000 individuals.

The extension of hawker meal subsidies is the latest in a series of community efforts by the bank. Recent initiatives include DBS Foundation’s strategic partnerships with SG Enable (SGE) and the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) to improve the lives and livelihoods of persons with disabilities and lower-income families respectively, and equip them with the support, know-how and opportunities to face the future with greater confidence.

[1] Singapore Consumer Price Index (Nov 2023): DOS | SingStat Website - Singapore Consumer Price Index, Nov 2023
[2] Singapore Index of Inflation Expectations survey (Dec 2023): Singaporeans’ inflation expectations continue downward trend following regional and global cues | SMU Newsroom
[3] Singapore Index of Inflation Expectations survey (Dec 2023): Singaporeans’ inflation expectations continue downward trend following regional and global cues | SMU Newsroom
[4] 62 years old and above


About DBS
DBS is a leading financial services group in Asia with a presence in 19 markets. Headquartered and listed in Singapore, DBS is in the three key Asian axes of growth: Greater China, Southeast Asia and South Asia. The bank's "AA-" and "Aa1" credit ratings are among the highest in the world.

Recognised for its global leadership, DBS has been named “World’s Best Bank” by Global Finance, “World’s Best Bank” by Euromoney and “Global Bank of the Year” by The Banker. The bank is at the forefront of leveraging digital technology to shape the future of banking, having been named “World’s Best Digital Bank” by Euromoney and the world’s “Most Innovative in Digital Banking” by The Banker. In addition, DBS has been accorded the “Safest Bank in Asia” award by Global Finance for 15 consecutive years from 2009 to 2023.

DBS provides a full range of services in consumer, SME and corporate banking. As a bank born and bred in Asia, DBS understands the intricacies of doing business in the region’s most dynamic markets.

DBS is committed to building lasting relationships with customers, as it banks the Asian way. Through the DBS Foundation, the bank creates impact beyond banking by supporting businesses for impact: enterprises with a double bottom-line of profit and social and/or environmental impact. DBS Foundation also gives back to society in various ways, including equipping underserved communities with future-ready skills and helping them to build food resilience.

With its extensive network of operations in Asia and emphasis on engaging and empowering its staff, DBS presents exciting career opportunities. For more information, please visit www.dbs.com.