Reverse The Khata and Helpy Hour

About a month ago, I had written about our iron guy. During the lockdown, we, as a family, have literally been wearing the same set of 4-5 pieces of clothing without ever bothering to iron them. And our iron guy kept asking every week via WhatsApp (since we were under the lockdown, our apartment complex has barred all kinds of visitors’ entry) if there are clothes to iron.

We kept replying that we do not, and at one point he asked us if we could pay him in advance and deduct it once we start using his services again. I felt really bad for him and we did transfer some money via Google Pay, back then.

This ‘Pay now, use later’ is a predominant theme during the lockdown all over the world. I had written about it early in April.

From organized restaurants and institutions, this theme is now moving to the unorganized sector.

Axis Bank’s new campaign conceptualized and produced by MullenLowe Lintas is a good effort in this direction. The #ReverseTheKhata idea is snappy and easy to remember. It nicely flips the age-old I-Owe-You – instead of the shopkeeper writing in his khata book about your payment balance, you could do it, for a change, to help them.

And it’s good to see another bank endorse the sentiment by directly sharing Axis Bank’s message!

Another effort in the same theme is from Belgium, produced by the federation of cafes in the country (called FedCaf) and conceptualized by the agency Happiness. The idea is even more hands-on than #ReverseTheKhata.

The Belgian idea goes, ‘Pay 2. Get 1’. It beautifully flips the happy hour concept of ‘pay for one and get 2’ for the service of the cafes that are severely affected by the pandemic. They even call it ‘Helpy Hour’.

The difference is that #ReverseTheKhata is a loan of sorts, while Helpy Hour is charity. But all these efforts – pay-now-eat-later, reverse-the-khata and pay-2-get-1 are all intended in the same direction – to support local establishments and individuals survive the most debilitating slowdown we have ever known.

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