Technology has done the world a great deed. We take it for granted, but it never complains, it’s only there to serve.
But perhaps in a time of virus outbreaks and lockdowns, taking it for granted might have not been the best of moves.
Virus or no virus, there are already available technologies that should have been widely implemented.
One of them is cashless payment or better known as e-wallets. It’s a form of transaction where you’ll just need to tap your phone or scan a QR code to make payments. The money will then be deducted directly from your bank account or from your e-wallet’s balance.
It’s super-efficient and just requires a phone to do. But yet, many vendors and consumers are oblivious to its benefits.
It would have been a safe alternative when buying supplies during the lockdown.
Last weekend, I braved the dangers of going out to get supplies for my family and me. I rushed to my local grocery store – which had temperature tests and limited the number of people who could enter – to get some veggies, meat, and other household essentials.
I paid for my items with my debit card and I was off. On the way back, I stopped by a 7-Eleven store to pick up some snacks for the weekend.
The coronavirus is proven to linger on surfaces for up to 9 days. I was worried because paying with cash could spread the virus. But what made it more infuriating is that they didn’t allow me to pay with my card because ‘it didn’t meet the required amount for card payment’.
In fact, they didn’t accept any other form of cashless payments. I couldn’t even use RazerPay to make the payment despite Razer having its e-wallet service installed in all 7-Eleven stores but not this branch.
If you’re going to implement this service, go all out, don’t do it half-heartedly.
E-wallet companies are not focusing on the ‘right’ customers.
In Malaysia where I live, I can safely say that cashless payment is not widely used. Sure, GrabPay is the most used e-wallet in my country, but it would seem their aim is on big-name retailers.
Malaysia is well-known for its street food. Every corner and every turn, you’ll be able to find a stall selling yummy delights.
E-wallet companies never cared to educate these people about the benefits of cashless payments. How come? Is it because they’re small businesses so it’s not worth spending the resources to educate them?
Let’s be frank, we visit fancy restaurants for the sake of the ambiance – and to fuel our social media egos. In Malaysia, the best food are often served by Ma and Pa stalls. They sweat behind the wok all day cooking the best they can.
If e-wallet companies boast that cashless methods are easy and secure, how come these stalls don’t have them?
Education works for both vendors and consumers.
Another problem with e-wallets is the rate of adoption of consumers. Many people still don’t know or have no reason to need e-wallets.
Education needs to work not only on vendors but consumers as well. With the right words, e-wallet companies could start promoting their services which actually help in stopping the spread of the virus.
At the same time, e-wallets are also a good form of security. Malaysia is well-known for its snatch thieves. But if you’re not carrying around any cash, all you lose is your phone and ID cards, which can be tracked and reissued respectively.
Will we learn the benefits of e-wallets once the pandemic ends?
I sure as hell hope so!
If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the importance of hygiene and how a minuscule cell could end up causing a large scale catastrophic disruption. Implementing e-wallets might be a small step under normal circumstances. But at a time like time, it does feel huge.
You might not share my sentiments but just think about how much better if it was widely implemented before this whole virus and lockdown thing happened.
In a feeble attempt to push e-wallets in Malaysian, the government announced in early 2020 that it will provide RM30 (US$7) to citizens on their preferred e-wallet app to promote a cashless society. But with no prior education on how to use these services, what was the point?
Will e-wallet companies and governments learn from this? Your guess is as good as mine.