Why isn’t Ehsaas Emergency Cashless?

The prescribed best practices during the Coronavirus situation includes social distancing, strong emphasis on frequent handwashing, hygiene and limiting sharing of items to reduce the transfer of COVID19 germs. The whole concept of putting the world through a global lockdown is to minimize person-to-person contact.

Why then, is the Government of Pakistan distributing cash currency notes of Rs.12000 per family, in a total project budget of Rs.144 billion. There is no doubt that the financial assistance is greatly needed. However why not distribute that cash through digitally through bank accounts or wallets?

The answer can’t be that the 12 million families aren’t in the system; to verify eligibility for the emergency cash, each individual sends a text containing their CNIC number which means they are already in the system. Why not simply do one of the following: a) transfer the Rs.12,000 into their bank or wallet; or b) in case they don’t have a bank account or wallet, facilitate opening one?

Nobody is questioning what the government is trying to do. But seeing millions line up, albeit sitting 6-foot distance apart, why take the risk of handling the currency? COVID19 or not, germs do exist on printed material even if its for a short while. Why not use the opportunity and demonstrate accountability of every rupee being transferred into its rightful owner? What would be the downside of showing the efficiency of the system?

One argument could be that not all the small kiryana stores may be able to accept or process ‘cashless’. While the majority of the transactions for micropayments are done by the small stores, there are still other opportunities to onboard merchants across a variety of ready solutions.

While it is reported that this is just phase 1 of the Ehsaas Emergency Fund release, the cash distribution of the grants is just not a good idea.

What do you think?

Here’s a small video we put together to show why cashless is better in this situation.

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