With more than 10 Million downloads while boasting a 4.0+ rating on the App Store, the BHIM app has proved that the government can do a wonderful job if it wants to.
Conversations about government projects in India makes most people sigh immediately. Government projects have traditionally been rife with obstacles, delayed timelines, and flawed execution, and private companies make the most of the opportunity. But the government’s UPI transfers app, BHIM, is doing things very differently.
A week after the app was released, a Facebook post detailing why a user felt the BHIM app wasn’t secure came out. “The following post is not to malign or shame the Government or any agency, but to make them aware of the risks in the cybersecurity domain,wrote Sameep Agarwal on Facebook. He then outlined why he felt the app had serious security issues pointing out that the app was not written in native code, its crypto(graphy) was non-existent, the code wasn’t obfuscated, the app had commented code, and had issues which could lead to potential data leaks.
By this point, the BHIM app was already picking up speed having been downloaded over a million times already and was very much in the public spotlight. Agarwal’s post was subsequently shared by several sizable Facebook pages and went viral focusing on the concerns about the app.
As we all know, it’s hard to get the government to comment on individual concerns of the public. There’s always too much feedback, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed when the product is being used by millions of Indians. But on the very same day that Agarwal had put up the post, BHIM’s official Facebook page put out a detailed clarification.
The aforementioned post was published 12 hours after the original post had been created. And it wasn’t written by a fresh-outta-college intern – instead, the post delved into the behind-the-curtain tech of the app and served to ease the concerns. What’s more, the post even admitted a mistake – Agarwal had pointed out there was uncommented code in the app which could slow down performance. “Thanks for the feedback. We will look into removing the commented code and reduce the size,” BHIM app replied.
Now we all know this isn’t how typical interaction with government employees works. Getting a response is pretty rare; getting a detailed response in which you’re thanked for your feedback even more so! And this is why it seems like BHIM isn’t being run like a typical 9-5 government operation. Someone was manning the social media account at 10:20 pm and sent out the response through its official Facebook page.
And the results are showing. BHIM has already been downloaded over a crore time while retaining a solid rating of 4.0 on the Play Store. Within 10 days of its launch, its left private competitors, such as Flipkart’s PhonePe, HDFC’s UPI behind. And that’s perhaps down to the way the organization is being run. If your tech team and customer service can start acting as they care about their products, government agencies can compete with private players – and beat them at their own game.