The last few months have been transformational for Radha Kishan Soni, a 53-year-old retiree and father of two from small-town Rajasthan. For most of his life, Radha Kishan shied away from newer forms of technology - preferring to visit the bank rather than ATMs, using cash rather than digital payments, listening to the radio for the news instead of watching TV.
That is, until the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
“I am a diabetic and almost a senior citizen, which means I'm in the high-risk group. After the lockdown eased, I had to go out of the house for essentials like groceries and was keen on limiting my touchpoints,” says Radha Kishan.
To help minimize his risk, Radha Kishan’s younger son Prateek introduced his father to the payments feature on WhatsApp. Prateek patiently took his father through the process of setting up his account details on the app and making transactions.
"I was not sure if I would be able to understand how to make digital payments. But when I made my first transaction...I was thrilled"
“Even though I have a smartphone with many functions, I only used it for calls and WhatsApp messages. I was thrilled when Prateek told me about the payments feature,” he says. “I was not sure if I would be able to understand how to make digital payments. But when I made my first transaction by sending Prateek Rs 100 (about USD 1), I was thrilled.” He adds with a laugh, “after that, there was no stopping me….It’s truly made life easier for me,” mentioning that the ease-of-use and the convenience of a familiar interface helped.
Radha Kishan, who says he used to “spend an hour or two waiting in the serpentine queues at the bank,” now has the freedom to transfer money and make payments through his phone, saving him time and energy, and most importantly, helping to keep him safe. “With payments on WhatsApp, I now spend that time reading or helping out my elder son in his shop. It’s a great feeling.”
With less points of contact, he can more freely go grocery shopping now that he can pay the vendor via the payments feature on WhatsApp by simply scanning their UPI QR code*. He also pays for his evening cup of tea while catching up with friends at a local tea shop the same way. Radha Kishan even convinced his elder son Lalit to use the payments feature on WhatsApp, along with his tea-time friends. “He (Lalit) is just like me, not interested in technology. But then I told him ‘If a 50-year-old man can learn, why can’t you?’”
*Note: The payments feature on WhatsApp is not yet available on the WhatsApp Business App.