During one of our field visits, we asked a shop owner if he accepts digital payment. He pulled out the QR code from his drawer and showed us. He added that he doesn’t give everyone the QR code or bank account as there could be misuse. He showed us a WhatsApp message forwarded to him in Kannada, which roughly translated to the following.
‘GooglePay and PhonePe do not have voice(calling) customer care services. The numbers that are available on the internet are fake numbers. In case you call the customer care number, all the amount in your bank account will disappear in minutes. You will not get your money back even if you file a police complaint. In case there is a transaction failure while paying or receiving money on these apps, please wait for a while as the server may be busy. While some companies do have customer care numbers, GooglePay and PhonePe do not have it.’
We weren’t surprised by such messages being forwarded on WhatsApp. Still, we wanted to understand how the shopkeeper validated the message's authenticity. He said the message was delivered by his lawyer friend, who was aware of the shopkeeper using QR codes to accept payments.
This interaction was a sneak peek into the mind of how the shopkeeper associated meaning with these messages based on whom they came from. I wonder if the forward would have the same impact if it were received from someone else.
If I had to summarise in George Orwell's style - ‘All forwards are equal, but some forwards are more equal than others
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The major problem arises with lack of vernacular support and digital literacy what if they can select language to type in settings? Or in chat bots that provide support on WhatsApp?
But again spam links can also be made in vernacular, how do we cut down these frauds keep us motivated to design new things.
I did a small research about this topic a while back. One of the insight was the extensive use of voice messages. WhatsApp was natively designed for English, and Indians who joined WhatsApp early started typing their language in English to chat. But people who joined later, used voice messages extensively to chat. It's much more intuitive and personal.
Full thread: https://twitter.com/rajeshraghavan_/status/1313828918428725250