Covid-19: Want contactless payments? Go digital

Apr 2, 2020

Payment modes like UPI, IMPS, RTGS, mobile wallets and net-banking can contribute effectively in reducing human interactions in the time of coronavirus.

The government has initiated a 21-day lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus, allowing only essential services to operate, but operating such services still require some form of human contact, which is best avoidable during these times. While not all human contact can be avoided, people can ly go contactless as far as some services like payments and banking are concerned.

Although government has been promoting digital payments for long now, these options are essential now to maintain social distancing. The best way to achieve this is use of online billers and UPI and wallet apps. For paying online bills, most banks have incorporated bill desk in their online banking options. The system is easy, and users can discover that they can also set bill payments to automatic withdrawal. However, if you are uncomfortable using such services, apps like PayTM and PhonePe allow bill payments via their platform.

“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 netbanking could contribute effectively in reducing human interactions,” says Mandar Agashe, founder and vice chairman, Sarvatra Technologies, a payment solutions provider.

Although many initiatives have been taken by banks and payment companies to promote cashless payments, Bhavin Patel, CEO & founder, LenDenClub, a P2P lending platform, believes more needs to be done. “I believe it is also an ideal time to enable the public to get acquainted with 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,” he says.

Beware of hackers

This pandemic can be a chance for the government to make India truly contactless. But it is also important for people to maintain a clean bill of health for their gadgets. Covid-19 has undoubtedly affected millions of people, but its wider impact has been felt on the economy. As people have been locked up at home, brand companies are hurting. Offices, however, have discovered that work from home can be as productive as office. Employees are also adjusting course to this new way of working. But this extensive use of internet and work from home has meant use of personal laptops for office work. While companies have a way of ensuring enterprise security on work systems, at home, where most people use internet from a low-grade wi-fi device and personal systems with little protection, there is little that is there in terms of security.

The virus, thus, provides a breeding ground for hackers to exploit these vulnerabilities, which not only puts your office data at risk, but also can impact your financial health. One of the easiest ways to attack a computer is using email phishing, and reports indicate that such attacks have increased manifold since the coronavirus threat. Hackers are using email phishing to send information about coronavirus to people in form of attachments. As the person downloads the attachment, they infect the computer with a virus. This can also be a keylogger, which can steal your passwords and put your financials in dangers.

The best way to avoid this is to keep your system updated and avoid downloading any mails. Also, it would be best to keep an antivirus handy both for your phone and system. Bitdefender, Avira, Kaspersky, Norton are good options.
As most financial data via apps is stored on phones it is important that phones are also protected. Hackers can use vulnerabilities like videos and PDFs on WhatsApp or other messaging platforms to infect your system.

So, avoid downloading any attachment over WhatsApp and other chat and avoid automatic downloads. Kaspersky has been reporting that hackers have been using Ginp banking Trojan to send infected SMS to your inbox, and swindle people. The trojan takes people to Coronavirus finder page and asks for 0.75 euros to inform about infected people around the user’s location. Once the user enters credit card and other information, it steals all the details. Users need to be extra aware of such threats, as with increased net usage comes the problem of increased exposure to hacking attempts.



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