27. ATM: Advanced Track to Modernity

Photo: In 2001, FairPrice supermarket became the first to have ATMs installed within their premises. Source: Samuel He

Automated Teller Machines (ATM) in Singapore had clocked about 20 years of usage when FairPrice spotted a chance to elevate its service by expanding access to these cash dispensers.

In April 2001, it inked an agreement with DBS to set up “POSB Centres” in selected supermarkets all over the island. Each centre was about the size of two parking spots, and offered a suite of basic banking services, including cash deposits, withdrawals and passbook updating.

Collectively, these Centres and POSB ATMs tackled the pain point of increasingly time-starved Singaporeans in the new millennium, who could now load up their shopping carts and wallets in one go. It also set FairPrice apart from the competition, burnishing its image as a convenient one-stop shop. Consumers could shop and bank at the same time.

That same year, in 2001, FairPrice crossed the milestone of $1 billion in revenue.

Today, ATMs are fairly ubiquitous in FairPrice supermarkets. But with Singapore’s drive to go cashless and the organisation’s constant upgrades, perhaps these could soon be replaced by VTMs – Video Teller Machines that offer an even wider range of self-banking services.

One thing’s for certain: FairPrice will continue along the track of modernisation to deliver convenience to its customers.

Since its humble beginnings in a corner of Toa Payoh, NTUC FairPrice has become the quintessential Singaporean supermarket. The leap from a single store to a grocery giant is a tale of retail reinvention – a half-century journey that saw the cooperative confront crises and challenges, revamps and even robbers.

As it expanded and evolved, FairPrice never wavered from its core mission: to moderate the cost of living for consumers. It Takes a Great Deal - A Catalogue of FairPrice Group Stories encapsulates the birth of the consumer cooperative in 1973 and its transformation into a $4 billion food enterprise that is now called FairPrice Group.

Through 50 remarkable stories, we celebrate the people, products and places that mark significant milestones for the food retailer over the last five decades, charting its growth and successes in the past, present and into the future.