The Indian government is getting tougher on social distancing laws, but adopting technology for compliance is not always so simple.

With its huge population, India has had a difficult time managing the pandemic situation. However, thanks to 4G connectivity and awareness drives by their government, technology adoption has helped somewhat at both the individual and organizational levels. 

For instance, in a city like Bengaluru, where technology-adoption is fast, residents can go 100% cashless payments in their daily activities from dawn-to-dusk, without any worry of contact with virus-tainted cash notes.

Other parts of India that were reluctant to adopt cashless payments (fearing cyberattacks or scams) are also turning to alternatives to the handling of cash. With the novel coronavirus spreading across the country, people are still hesitant to dine out.

This challenge has prompted enterprises to provide a safer and more enjoyable experience to would-be diners. How? Through the support of contactless payment methods, and contactless digital menus accessed via QR codes.

Said Sunil Khosla, President (Digital Business – Retail), Indian Transact, an omni-channel merchant-payment-solutions company: “This solution tackles and resolves various issues that the restaurants face during this current period. Our analytics also provide QR, billing, inventory and marketing solutions to our consumers.” 

Building a digital presence

Many restaurant owners have expressed concerns about online-ordering apps forcing them to also have to build their own mobile app. Additionally, due to the highly-competitive environment, chefs and hoteliers are under pressure to create the right first impression for potential guests— physical or digital—of their restaurant. 

The digital presence of the restaurants would need to comprise world-class websites and mobile applications, which costs money and time to develop. To cater to this gap in the market, CETAS Information Technology, which has a presence in India, Asia and other Middle-Eastern cities, has developed a sophisticated solution to consolidate online ordering, table reservation, delivery tracking, customer surveys, marketing promotions, loyalty programs and even social media engagement.

Its Director, Shyam Kumar, said: “The food tech start-ups’ non-sustainable economic model has created a gap in the supply-and-demand situation in the home delivery food business. Identifying this gap, our solution can enable restaurants to kick start their own branded online channel and engage their loyal clients to place home delivery and take away orders.”

To circumvent connectivity issues, the solution can resort to older technology such as SMS messages as an alternative to QR codes. For instance, the restaurant can send SMS messages to their customers and they can order using the same.

Companies like India Transact are also pitching a ‘pre-booking from home’ model to clients. This would work the same way as the QR model, through a message link or a merchant app. It also provides for pre-booking of the tables. “After this, we would provide our customer a solution that would have all the three, QR, billing and pre-booking in the same solution,” said Khosla, who further added that this would also allow owners of the large restaurants to have the analytics to track their numbers.

India Transact has plans to provide the same kinds of technology for service industries such as salons or grocery merchants. It is also open to third-party collaborations to meet the unique requirements of clients.

Regardless of the efforts of tech companies to ease the transition to digital, there will be reluctant entities. According to Wilson Panneerselvam, CEO, ADW Group, which owns various eateries, some traditional hoteliers are not willing to accept digital payments. “They have to pay their employees and vendors in physical cash. This is the major reason why they do not accept physical cash from the customers.”

According to him, with the Government also encouraging cashless payments economy and levying heavy charges for ATM withdrawals, such businesses need to change because “moving towards a cashless payments model is going to be the future” in India.