- Take out your Dialog phone.
- Dial #111#
- Choose from English, Sinhala or Tamil
Congratulations! You’ve subscribed to Dialog’s eZ Cash service. Now to understand what you’ve just gotten yourself into, read the rest of this guide. The Readme team headed over to Dialog HQ for an interview to get the scope on Dialog’s much-mentioned-but-still-vague eZ Cash service. Here’s what we found out – in short.
Imagine a virtual wallet. Now imagine that this wallet is linked to your phone number. It’s the same thing as a credit or debit card, except in this case, your “card” is your phone, your card number is your phone number, and you don’t need to swipe your card to pay – you can do all that through the phone itself.
That’s eZ Cash in a nutshell: a virtual wallet hooked up to your phone number. When you first dial #111# to register, your name, NIC and so on are pulled from Dialog’s databases to instantly create a virtual wallet account. We were told by Dialog that it’s a proper, PCI DSS certified, Central-Bank-authorized system with multiple backup servers and the whole nine yards, so rest assured: your money’s safe.
Registering gives you a virtual wallet that can hold up to Rs. 10,000. You can top up, withdraw cash, use this to pay Dialog and utility bills – think CEB, LECO and water bills – and, if you happen to run into any of the 14,000+ Dialog eZCash authorized merchants in Sri Lanka, you can pay for purchases FROM YOUR PHONE. Now that’s cool. Paying is as easy as tapping out a few USSD menus: the only catch is that both sender and receiver have to be subscribed.
Once transaction is complete, both parties involved get notification SMSs instantly. You can also transfer money to anyone else who has signed up for eZ Cash. Remember when you wanted to collect money for movie tickets before your friend’s got to the theatre? Or got caught up in a restaurant paying the whole bill because your colleagues didn’t have change? Well, it got even handier: 3wheel Lanka supports eZ Cash, which means 800+ three-wheeler drivers can receive payment through this service. Quite handy on those moments when, at around 1:00 AM, you realize you’ve spent all your money and have no way of stumbling back home.
Now let’s get into security details. You have a PIN. Just like for your average debit card. Unlike your debit card, Dialog does not hand you a PIN: you have to make one up. Apparently all responsibility for this PIN lies with the user. If you choose to put an easily guessable standby like 0000 or the age-old 1234, that’s your problem: beware that one wild friend who will try to transfer a couple thousand rupees to his account. Other than that, it’s just as safe, marginally easier, and according to the data, substantially cheaper to use than a credit card. Overall, it seems very effective for microtransactions – small stuff like Rs. 50/= to Rs. 2000/= trades which you normally wouldn’t go to the bank for. It’s all virtual and instantaneous, so the time spent behind the counter is down to a minimum.
Dialog’s also got system in place so you can donate to certain charities – like HelpAge. Apparently they’ve invited other networks to join in on the eZ Cash platform – which is something we smartphone-hugging shoppers would like very much. A Sri Lankan version of Paypal, operating directly off your phone? Now that’s a thought!
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