Lower-income people will be able to use their electronic welfare cards to buy goods from shops that support the QR-code payment system starting next month, Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong said on Monday.
Holders of the state welfare chip cards, which are dubbed “the poor man’s debit card”, have complained that not enough of the so-called blue-flag shops have been installed with smart-card readers that can read their welfare cards.
Sontirat said holders of the cards will be able to use them starting next month on QR-code payment systems, enabling them to purchase goods at shops that have not joined the government’s blue-flag Pracharat programme.
The commerce minister said at least 100,000 shops nationwide were expected to join the QR-code payment system, which is now being expanded by commercial banks. Preparations to allow the welfare cards to be used with the QR-code system are now 80 per cent complete, he added.
Once the system is fully operational, the cards could be used at grocery stores and even noodle shops, Sontirat said.
The Commerce Ministry has to date installed 30,000 smart-card readers at blue-flag shops. Another 10,000 readers will be installed within this month, Sonthirat added.