Handling payments in complete lockdown
Contactless payments could be the way ahead and payment models like UPI, IMPS, RTGS, Mobile wallets, and Net banking could contribute effectively in reducing spread of Corona Virus due to human interactions
With the ongoing situation, where 30 states and union territories are under complete lockdown, managing payments have become a concern. While we have to maintain a social distance, at the same time manage payments on daily necessities has become a task (For eg. Payment for electricity bills, phone bill, etc). Some experts suggest going contactless is the way forward. Others suggest we cannot get away with cash, especially in rural, tier II, III markets. In those areas or populations, hand-holding and awareness to manage the day to payments with precautionary measures is a must.
Here are comments from three experts in fintech space with their views on handling payments in the current scenario
More options of contactless payments needs to be offered
Bhavin Patel, CEO & Founder, LenDenClub:
Referring to the current situation of COVID-19, contactless payments is one of the best ways to avoid human interaction. Money changes hands frequently and cash even more so. Therefore contactless payments can assist public health in a big way in the wake of the ongoing pandemic. This is not to create panic or anxiety but to take preventive measures. I believe it is also an ideal time to enable the public at large to get acquainted to the ease and flexibility of digital payments. Institutions like banks can consider increasing the limits on contactless payments, while payments companies and aggregators should consider incentivising their payment options. Also, other institutions and companies should integrate various options of contactless payment options in their system which will reduce human intervention to a great extent.
Rural area physical money is inevitable – need to build awareness on the current situation
Anand Kumar Bajaj, CEO & Founder, PayNearby:
While contactless payments need to be embraced fervently in this challenging period, some geographies and customer segments will have to be assisted to be moved into the digital mode. It is especially important during these testing times that citizens across all segments of the society have the resources to take care of their needs. In places where physical money exchange is unavoidable, players need to build awareness around the situation and on a war footing cultivate best practices while cash is getting exchanged.
At PayNearby to curb the spread of the epidemic and raise awareness, we are focusing all our energies to run campaigns that train people to sanitize their hands before and after exchanging cash. The campaign is called “Zidd aapke Suraksha ki; Zidd Surakshit aage badhne ki” where customers and retailers are made aware of the need to wash their hands with soap and water or a hand santitizer, after conducting any financial transaction. This has been communicated to over 10 lakh retailers across 17,000 plus PIN codes. Our teams are putting all their energies to ensure every retailer is made aware of it, and puts this into practice. We are happy to share that more than 250 videos replaying this core messaging have already been made and shared by our retailers in various social forums, and it gives us great comfort to see this level of awareness and proactive social messaging.
Contactless payments is the way to tide over the current tough times!
Mandar Agashe, Founder and Vice Chairman, Sarvatra Technologies:
“Media is flooded with articles on South Korea quarantining and burning cash to prevent spreading of the corona virus. It is believed the virus can stay on surfaces in their fully active state for days. In this context, physical cash handling as a daily routine, is being considered as a major cause of concern for risk of contamination. While the WHO hasn’t explicitly corroborated this, a statement issued says that it’s “advisable to use contactless payments to reduce the risk of transmission.”
India is still in the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak and many precautionary measures are being taken to prevent the spread. However, considering the current situation, contactless payments could be the way ahead and payment modes like UPI, IMPS, RTGS, Mobile wallets and Net banking could contribute effectively in reducing human interactions. Not only will things change at individual level but even company level. Many companies have been undergoing a digital transformation, or promoting new technologies such as self-checkout(eg- lifestyle stores), will see more rapid adoption of digital payments to reduce the risks of transmitting the virus through human interactions.
Other measures can include – physical cash being sterilized before release to customers, incentives on using digital payments amongst others. Building proper awareness and education around contactless payment besides undertaking other preventive measures can help us collectively combat the risks involved. This will also encourage India to bring a shift in their everyday habits, facilitating financial inclusion at a macro level.
This can cause a drastic change in payment habits, as consumers shift to digital channels to reduce their risk of infection from handling cash. It’s the same way how Demonitisation paved the way for digital payments in India overnight and the adoption has been increasing ever since.”