The Coronavirus pandemic has forced us all into self-isolation. Undoubtedly, carrying out day to day activities has become quite inconvenient, but strictly following social distancing practices is of the utmost important right now considering the pace at which the virus is spreading.
The World Health Organization (WHO), local governing bodies as well as experts in Pakistan have highlighted a range of precautionary measures for limiting the spread of this deadly disease. As a responsible person, I like to read up on these to make sure I protect myself and those around me. However, going out for essentials like groceries is imperative even when under lockdown and this is where things get a little challenging for me.
Every time I go out to buy something, I become curious about the research that says Coronavirus can be transferred through surfaces like paper currencies and even plastic cards. The SBP has directed all banks to quarantine notes but this practice can’t be applied to money which is being exchanged between people and shopkeepers on daily basis. On each visit to the store I would wonder of a viable solution to this problem.
Then, one day as I was collecting my groceries, I saw a man scanning some kind of code placed at the counter with his smartphone. He didn’t give a card or cash, instead all he showed to the guy at the cash register was a text which apparently, the shopkeeper had also received. I was fascinated and curious at the same time.
I inquired the man what this payment mode was that he had just used. He kindly told me that it was Easypaisa’s new QR payment service. I had heard about it, seen the QR cards lying at certain places too but had never given it any thought. Today, though, I was intrigued. I couldn’t help but to know more.
Fortunately, the guy using it turned out to be friendly and explained me the process, which was quite simple to my surprise. All I had to do was sign up to the Easypaisa application using my CNIC details. The option is available on the app and works at hundreds of retailers including petrol stations, super stores and restaurants etc. The Easypaisa account itself can be topped up through balance transfer from any bank account. This means that there is no handling of cash or cards at any point – truly going cashless.
Since I visit the store quite often, I know the shopkeeper too. The guy was quick to chime in and point out that even for retailers, the process of acquiring this payment facility was quite simple. In light of the Coronavirus outbreak, many people had been coming in with reservations about paying cash or card due to the fear of potentially transferring the virus. The process to get registered for the service was all digital without any lengthy paperwork. I was surprised about how I hadn’t heard about this till now.
The shopkeeper further explained that there were three ways to register. He had done it by simply sending a message with the name of his city and his mobile number to 422 (type RET<space> MOBILE NUMBER and CITY and send it to 422). He mentioned that a few other retailers also registered by calling the same number or (Area code) 111-003-737 and some by visiting the Easypaisa website. After processing of the application, he received a confirmation message which was followed by the shop’s QR code being sent to him through WhatsApp. He was amazed that the process was actually so simple which saved both his time and effort.
A service like QR payments is a breath of relief in these trying times. It enables us to ensure our own safety while also making sure that we fulfill our duty towards society. Many businesses are now introducing this facility and I can’t wait for it to be available in every store across the city.