We are witnessing an outbreak of Coronavirus in our country with almost 1000 people under its wrath. We hope that the spread will be contained until a cure is found, the world at large is taking precautionary measures to keep themselves as much safe as possible. People are using technology be it apps or other means to tackle this deadly coronavirus.
Use of Technology to Tackle Coronavirus
This means people are self-isolating, keeping social interactions only on a need basis, classes and seminars going online and companies directing their employees to work from home while the outbreak is contained. Globally, processes and functions are being shifted online, be it online work, online studies, online shopping.
Companies are also investing their resources heavily on out of the box initiatives aimed at benefitting the masses in regards to COVID-19. For instance, the ride-hailing service Careem partnered with MicroEnsure to provide hospitalization and ICU admission in case its captains or their family members are tested positive for COVID-19.
Similarly, organizations are playing their part to spread awareness in this regard and also making donations to support this cause. The Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation announced its plan to donate medical supplies (1.8 million masks, 210,000 COVID-19 test kits, 36,000 pieces of protective clothing) to several countries in Asia to help the global fight against COVID-19.
In this regard, Jazz has launched work from home bundle and Telenor Pakistan has changed its on-screen name to “Stay Home” on its customers. Similarly, Ufone changed its standard caller tune to awareness audio recorded for COVID-19.
We are also seeing companies, both local and multinationals, stepping in and raising awareness regarding coronavirus and the necessary steps one can take to avoid it. The social media platforms are flooded with images and posts from different companies.
Initiatives are taken by Companies
We can also witness different initiatives being taken by companies aimed at informing people to stay at home and to practise social distancing at its best. For instance, before entering into lockdown, Foodpanda took the initiative called ‘contactless delivery’ letting customers order food online by pay for it via digital methods, and the rider would drop it off at one’s door and leave, serving the purpose of maintaining distance.
As an international practice, food delivery and logistics companies are using the true potential of technology and implementing initiatives such as drone delivery, which is limiting the distancing element and still letting people enjoy these services. Combined with the use of digital payment solutions such as Easypaisa, Credit/Debit card payments, these initiatives can indeed prove to be the ideal solution in this outbreak.
In order for Pakistan to reap the benefits of such initiatives, IT & technology companies, telecom service providers, and digital payment providers need to step in and come up with better, more advanced options, enabling the masses to shift towards the digital trends available and adopt modern technology to efficiently conduct their day to day activities.
Opportunity in times of crisis
In Pakistan, people are not that comfortable when it comes to using the internet and smartphones. However, with more people staying home, and thus online, they will be left with no choice but to start and increase online consumption. As a result, we will witness more openness and comfort towards consumption via online channels, and once we experience the convenience of it, the effects will remain even after the lockdowns are over.
The rather unfortunate outbreak of Coronavirus has also worked as a blessing in disguise for tech companies/businesses to capture new audiences willing to spend more time and money online, especially in emerging markets like Pakistan. As of now, online businesses in Pakistan have already started reporting spikes in sales. For example, due to the restrictions in travel and lockdown, grocery stores having online websites and catalogues have reported a significant increase in new customer base, number of orders as well as an increase in basket sizes.
Role of Digital Payments
When social distancing is at a prime, and being in public places is spreading the disease further, digital payments are undoubtedly playing a pivotal role as that is what the future holds. Digital payments let users pay for a variety of different products/services digitally without the need of being physically present or exchanging any objects like currency or cards.
Combined with e-commerce platforms such as OLX, Daraz, HomeShopping and online stores, the future of purchasing can be changed forever. The most common digital payment platforms are Easypaisa and JazzCash. Mobile wallets are already providing services which enable consumers to use digital payments easily without having to deal with paper currencies or cards at all.
The fact of the matter is that if all tech companies collaborate and work together, they have the potential of altering the way entire processes are conducted in Pakistan. Together, they can work on brilliant initiatives that can be taken to maintain social distancing and to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These initiatives, combined with the support of a government, can undoubtedly make a huge difference in checking the spread of this infectious disease all while advancing us as a nation.