Despite the lockdown, we are required to interact within our communities for basic needs amid a pandemic that has been fast spreading in India and across the world.
Accepting home deliveries, withdrawing cash from ATMs, paying over POS machines using your card are few of the several ways that you could come in contact with the virus and therefore, you could adopt some changes in your daily practices to make payments.
1. Avoid Cash
While there is no conclusive scientific proof that cash can carry the coronavirus, there are reports that suggest paper currency notes (that are used in India) could be carriers of germs, if not the virus.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has advised taking measures to maintain proper hygiene post handling of notes.
Use digital modes of transactions as much as you can and if you have no other choice but to handle cash, take measures like washing your hands or sanitising them afterwards.
At most ATMs, banks have placed sanitizers for customers to use after operating the machine.
2. Use contactless card
Recently issued credit cards generally come with the contactless feature that does not require the user to touch the POS device but simply hold it near the machine to complete the payment. These are accepted at almost every retail chain outlet. If you live in a city, which are at higher risk of COVID-19, the contactless card should be your preferred choice of card payment, if you decide to step outside and use POS device for payments.
These are also smart and secure as they only process one transaction, even if you were to tap your card more than once for a single purchase, avoiding unintended payments.
However, transactions above Rs 2,000 will require entering the PIN. Use sanitiser post entering the PIN, if you do.
3. Pay online and opt for doorstep delivery
For the least amount of interaction and contact, use online apps that provide delivery of groceries. Choose to pay online using NEFT, UPI or other online modes, rather than Cash on Delivery option.
Further, these apps also provide the leave package at the doorstep option to avoid interaction with the delivery person. You can also tip the delivery person over the app while you place the order as a thank you to their service during these difficult times.
4. QR code-based payments
Most places like petrol pumps, food outlets and even local Kirana shops use the all-purpose QR codes that allow customers to pay using UPI based apps or digital wallets.
Just open the app on your phone and scan the code (could be displayed over a paper or a screen) to initiate payment that does not require you to touch any gadget other than your own phone.
5. Do not click unknown links/ share details
Fraudsters have been sending text messages and emails posing as the WHO, Health Ministry, RBI or a bank, taking advantage of the vulnerability in the current situation. These messages contain links to download an app, make a donation, etc and allowing them access to your device or bank account.
Do not open e-mails or text messages that appear to be from the authorities asking for your details or click such an advertisement on the web.
The damage will be re-reversible as the loss of money, if any, will be considered as an irresponsible mistake on your part.
Also, do not share OTP or bank account details. No legit organisation like a bank will ever ask you for these details.
6. Be proactive with SMS alerts, bank details
Make sure instant SMS alerts are activated for your phone number so that you receive an alert every time a transaction is made from your account. Also update details in all important records, like bank details in your EPF account, mailing address at your bank, phone number in your Aadhaar, etc.
Social distancing measures may last the whole year and in such circumstances, it is best to keep your details updated to avoid visiting a government office or a bank branch and perform verifications of identity (for KYC purposes) seamlessly online.