MasterCardcardholders spent a whopping US$1,491.4 million during the Great Singapore Sale 2013 (GSS2013), held from 31 May to 28 July 2013. Singapore MasterCard cardholders contributed to the bulk of the MasterCard receipts, spending US$1,034.7 million – or a 11.3% increase – from a year before in 2012 (25 May – 22 July 2012). The number of transactions by Singapore MasterCard cardholders grew 11.1% to 9.2 million.
Growth in overall spend during the GSS, including spend by visiting MasterCard cardholders, held steady at 5.7%, with the number of transactions increasing by 12.1% to 12.0 million compared to a year before. While spend by visiting MasterCard cardholders dipped by 4.8% to US$456.7 million during GSS2013, transactions grew 15.7% to 2.8 million. Cardholders from Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan and China emerged as the top five spenders for GSS2013.
Online spending on MasterCard cards for the same period grew 25.6% to US$326.7 million – accounting for close to a quarter of total spend – while the number of transactions online grew 25.5% to 3.7 million.
MasterCard continues the impetus for contactless payments in Singapore – with the total number of transactions with contactless payments (MasterCard PayPass) growing by almost four times in the first half of 2013 (January – June 2013) compared to the same period a year before. MasterCard contactless payments in Singapore was first launched in 2011.
Expenditure & no. of transactions – overall
Overall spend (US$ million)
Overall no. of transactions
Expenditure & no. of transactions – breakdown by Singapore and visiting cardholders
Singapore cardholdersSpend (US$ million)
Singapore cardholdersNo. of transactions
Visiting cardholdersSpend (US$ million)
Visiting cardholdersNo. of transactions
Top 5 markets in terms of visiting MasterCard cardholders:
Total spend (US$)
% change vs corresponding period in 2012
No. of transactions
% change vs corresponding period in 2012
(1st last year)
(4th last year)
(3rd last year)
(5th last year)
(6th last year)
Top categories of retail spend by tourists from top 5 markets (excluding spend on accommodation and airfare):
Market (Top spend category)
No. of transactions
Australia – Department Stores
Malaysia – Computers, Computer Peripheral Equipment and Software
Indonesia – Department Stores
Japan – Miscellaneous and Speciality Retail Stores
China – Miscellaneous and Speciality Retail Stores
Visitors from Australia remain top foreign spenders in Singapore during GSS2013, with visitor spending from China taking U.S.’ spot in top five
Australian and Indonesia MasterCard cardholders spent most at Department Stores
Computers and Computer Peripheral Equipment and Software was the most popular spend category among Malaysian MasterCard cardholders during GSS2013
Japanese and Chinese MasterCard cardholders were big on Speciality Retail items
MasterCard (NYSE: MA), www.mastercard.com, is a technology company in the global payments industry. MasterCard Worldwide operate the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. MasterCard’s products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone.
We had S$200 prepaid value in the card and were on a mission to attempt shopping for one full evening without swiping any other cards or using any cash for payments.
We decided to visit Haji Lane, following one of four specially curated GSS shopping trails which MasterCard had designed for shoppers. Visit pricelesssingapore.com/gss to find out more about the trails (note that you have to be a Priceless Singapore member to access the trail pages).
Once an empty street of pre-war shophouses, Haji Lane has been given a new lease of life by local designers and young entrepreneurs who have set up their quaint boutiques proffering fashionable wear and products boasting made-in-Singapore designs. Here, you will find excellent vintage shops selling an array of contemporary, quirky garments and accessories as well as local boutiques by up-and-coming designers that have been refurbished in their own unique style. Just a street away, you’ll find textile shops that have been in business since the 1950s! There’s a raw, energetic vibe that’s worlds away from the polished international stores which makes Haji Lane so undeniably fascinating.
Rachel and I were looking for hidden gems in Haji Lane:
At the end of the day, Rachel bought a skirt (S$49), a cardigan (S$59) and a necklace (S$19) which left us with S$73:
We then headed to Bugis Junction for dinner at Platypus Kitchen. The dinner bill came up to S$60+ for the two of us and Asher, leaving S$6.50 in the our MasterCard PayPass card. Mission accomplished!
The entire experience of shopping with the MasterCard PayPass prepaid cardwas pretty seamless. As the card can be accepted in any stores that take MasterCard payment, it is accepted nearly everywhere in Singapore.
I enjoyed shopping with the card, but there are still some limitations to the technology and user experience which I hope MasterCard will be able to iron out soon.
Note that the card holds two prepaid value – as it is also an EZ-link card, there is also the EZ-link value which is not the same as the MasterCard value. For instance, when I use the card, if the merchant mistakenly use the EZ-link payment terminal instead of the MasterCard payment terminal, they will tell me that my card has zero value as I did not top up anything for the EZ-link value. This is despite the fact that there is S$200 in value on MasterCard.
Also, it is easy to confuse card “activation” and card “registration” on the official website. Activation refers to registering the card for payment, based on the prepaid value given if you received it as a gift card. Registration refers to registering your personal particulars with the card so you can top up the card and continue using it as a MasterCard when you exhaust the initial prepaid value. As of writing, I have been unable to register two MasterCard PayPass cards. I have tried registering on multiple web browsers on both Mac and PC, but to no avail. When I wrote in to highlight the problem, I was alerted of a technical glitch on the website and was asked to register via mobile. I gave up on registering the cards. Let me know if you have better luck.
Last of all, note that the MasterCard value cannot be taken out in cash until the expiry date stated on the front of the card. Even so, there is a S$5 administration fee and you have to cash out within a limited period. Do note that the card cannot be used for making payment if the bill amount is larger than the value in your card – eg. you cannot pay for a S$5.10 item if you have only S$5.00 in your card. Hence you need to plan your expenses carefully to use it to the very last cent.
Rachel and I managed to exhaust one card to just 10 cents in value and the other card to S$6.50.
I am sharing all these details here as it took me a while to figure all these out and I hope the information would help others to enjoy a more seamless experience shopping with the MasterCard PayPass Card. Happy shopping. 🙂
Well, now that the haze is gone, it is time to shop! 🙂
If you shop with MasterCard, there is a grand prize of S$20,000 to be won for this GSS! The more you spend during the GSS, the higher your chance of winning. To celebrate the 10th year of MasterCard sponsoring the event, this year cardholders will earn double GSS dollars every time you spend your their MasterCard. It means you get GSS$2 for every dollar you spend – so it doubles your chances of winning the main prize. And as if that wasn’t enough, every 20th MasterCard cardholder to register for the Great Singapore Sale will win one of 200 pairs of tickets to THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. You’ll need to be quick though, as The Great Singapore Sale finishes on 28 July.
To add more fun and excitement to GSS shopping, MasterCard invites Singapore residents and visitors to rediscover our sense of adventure by going on four specially curated shopping trails – Orchard Road Trail, Haji Lane Trail, Bugis Trail and Sentosa Trail – to discover first-hand unexpected finds and the amazing deals that GSS has to offer.
Orchard Road Trail – the ‘Style’ trail from high-street fashion clothes & jewellery to beauty products
Haji Lane Trail – ‘Off-the-beaten-track’ trail from authentic cuisines to one-of-a-kind unique design outfits
Bugis Trail – ‘Indie’ trail from cafes showcasing local music talent to indie brand retailers
Sentosa Trail – ‘Family’ trail for everyone of all ages in the household
Visit pricelesssingapore.com/gss to find out more (note that you have to be a Priceless Singapore member to access the trail pages).
I will be trying out one of the trail this weekend with my wife and son using our new MasterCard PayPass card. Stay tuned for updates.