What do we think about when we hear “Dashain”? Family, food, new clothes, kites and dakshina naturally come to mind. On the day of Dashami, getting our foreheads painted with bright shades of red tika, our ears adorned with freshly cut jamara, accompanied by a childlike excitement of receiving new notes from elders as a form of blessing, are all significant and valuable parts of our culture. But, in the midst of a grave health crisis; just as Covid-19 has become a massive disruption in our daily lives even this year’s festive season of Dashain and Tihar are sure to be like never before. As the Coronavirus continues to spread across the country, equipped with its astonishing level of transmissibility, hardly anyone is unaffected by the virus itself or the psychological and economic burden it has ushered in.
We, as Nepalese, take pride and joy in our socio-cultural life, enriched by festivals and cultural events that bring us together to mingle and celebrate. Social distancing is contradictory to the whole idea and spirit of Dashain and the shared celebration of life. But, we should not let the displeasure and resentment of this pandemic bring our guards down during our beloved festive season. We will win only if we act with foresight, positivity and an unemotional awareness of the preventive actions. As separating ourselves physically from each other is the only known path to avoid a major catastrophe, we need to make peace with the mild disturbance in our social, religious and cultural lives. It is agonizing, but there is hardly any alternative for us to contain the spread of this deadly virus.
At this time every year, with the demand in denomination, Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) issues a policy of printing new notes for the festive season. Generally, it is estimated that each note’s usability lasts 4 to 5 years or even two years or less on average before they end up torn and washed up in pockets. The unusable notes are destroyed and the printing of new notes is put into operation. As the order for printing is placed abroad, it entails a hefty outflow of our national currency and directly impacts our revenue. Every note made available in the market carries a great deal of investment from the government. Likewise, the excessive printing of new notes generates pollution in the manufacturing process which has a direct and significant impact on the environment.
Keeping in mind the changing economic and environmental situation of the world, it is high time now to take careful and sustainable action while preserving our culture and traditions. With the advancement in technology, we can initiate primary use of digital payment platforms for money transfer as a quicker, safer and a noncontact medium to send and receive Dakshina. It will also allow us to save the time normally wasted on waiting in long queues in banks to exchange notes for Dashain and, with the current pandemic, the practice of “Digital Dakshina” is far more efficient, relevant and safe. Making the switch from paper to digital is something that needs a proactive and all-hands-on-deck approach, especially by the young, tech-savvy generation who are well-equipped with the knowledge to assist our elders.
With the future of payments advancing into better and faster digitalization, alongside the use of smartphones with its progressive technology that continues to encourage people to form new habits, it is uncomplicated and, at this point, necessary to engrain the use of digital wallets in the community. Digital wallets allow us to replace our physical wallets or at the least minimize the use of cash and cards which endanger us to cross contamination. Paying with our smartphones online or by scanning QR codes are both zero contact methods of payment. Likewise, sending and receiving money digitally is also our best bet in a time when physical contact is a risk to ourselves and everyone else.
According to several studies, customers are now more than ever open to the idea of digital wallets when it comes to online shopping. With the spread of smartphones, we are able to make purchases anywhere and at any time, meaning that, the fear of using credit cards or digital wallets on e-commerce websites has almost entirely vanished; thanks to the tight security measures that advancement in fintech allows digital wallets to implement adhering to government policies.
Now, we need to take the next step towards the wide acceptance of digital payments by making it common knowledge in our community. Here, at IME Pay we are promoting the idea of “Dashain ko Dakshina, Mobile ma” as an initiative to encourage our public to have a safe Dashain, away from the horrors of the Coronavirus. It is an initiative to encourage you to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.
Let’s celebrate Dashain wherever we are! Let’s send and receive Dakshina and blessings on our mobile phones! Let’s celebrate a good Dashain from afar!