UBL Omni vs MCB Lite

I have been using UBL Wiz Internet Card for the last 5 years and my experience has been mixed. Recently I acquired an MCB card. I’ll post an objective comparison here. Lets start with the similarities:

  • Both are independent of bank accounts
  • Annual charges are around Rs. 300 for both
  • Both can be acquired within one day
  • Both support ATM withdrawals
  • Both support Internet transactions

The differences:

  1. Issuance:
    1. Wiz: You have to visit the bank. Some branches do not issue wiz cards whereas those which do may not have these available and you may be asked to come later or visit another branch.
    2. Lite: Fill in an online form and the card is delivered to you within 4-7 days.
    3. Winner: MCB Lite
  2. Documents required:
    1. Wiz: CNIC + Proof of your source of income
    2. Lite: CNIC only.
    3. Winner: MCB Lite
  3. Activation:
    1. Wiz: Activated at time of issuance
    2. Lite: Need to visit a lite-enabled (aka “litized”) branch to get the card activated. In my case it only took 5 minutes.
    3. Winner: UBL Wiz
  4. Interfaces available:
    1. Wiz: None
    2. Lite: Desktop (web) and smartphone apps.
    3. Winner: MCB Lite
  5. Statement and Balance enquiry
    1. Wiz: Monthly statement sent by email. Balance enquiry only possible via ATM. SMS alert upon every transaction without indication of remaining balance.
    2. Lite: Can check statement anytime via web interface or app.
    3. Winner: MCB Lite
  6. Deposit procedure:
    1. Wiz: Go to a UBL branch and fill in a deposit form. Some branches require you to fill the more complicated remittance form instead, which I learned after having wasted lots of hours. The account number is a certain subset of digits from your WIZ card. While all UBL branches allows deposits to WIZ card, a separate “system” has to be online for it and all these transactions have to be “supervised” by a senior banker which is cumbersome. The only other way to deposit is by use of UBL ATM card in a UBL ATM.
    2. Lite: Go to an MCB bank. Fill in a simple deposit slip. Write your phone number in place of account number, and the deposit is made within a few seconds. Even better: You can transfer to your Lite card via any other bank’s account using the other bank’s ATM card or Internet Banking. I made a test transaction from another bank and it went on quite smoothly. Furthermore, you may receive instant transfers from other MCB Lite users. MCB claims that it will be introducing cash depositing machines soon too.
    3. Winner: MCB Lite (by an enormous margin)
  7. Usability:
    1. Wiz: Only ATM, POS and online shopping.
    2. Lite: In addition to above, you can use the card for sending money to other bank accounts (only for Rs. 20), or to pay your bills and to send donations… All via the MCB lite app.
    3. Winner: MCB Lite
  8. Online acceptance:
    1. Wiz: In my  personal experience, it is accepted at most popular gateways. However I have had a small list of websites which the card failed to work with and caused me considerable inconvenience.
    2. Lite: Yet to test extensively.
    3. Winner: Draw

CONCLUSION: MCB Lite is a clear winner in most aspects. I would strongly recommend it to everyone thinking of getting a card for online transactions. Click here to apply for it now.

Blunt Gloom

The Dejected Quill - by ezuhaib

Blunt Gloom. Distress. Failures. Life cannot get worse.

Life will end anyway, so why do we crave for harmony? Why do we wish to built a perfect sandcastle at the beach when we know a devastating tsunami will be arriving just a few minutes from now? Maybe because it’s the only chance we have and we wish this one-time transit to be good. Good for what? Reason cannot answer.

Suicide appears at times to be rationally correct, as the perfect revenge against irrational survival instincts mother nature dripped into our heads.

Except when I think of someone I love, someone who loves me. Her existence forces me to revert to the survival instincts and accept the bodily prison my soul is made to live in.

I have to live.

Chain

A chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link, they say. Breath, the transit of inorganic air through our organic existence, is our weakest link. Life is our weakest link. A link so weak that most of us spend our entire lives taking care of this link rather than putting the chain to actual use.

Chains are strong, yet mortal. They have their breaking points. They are made to serve until those breaking points are tipped. Oh God, I wish to be that chain which serves the universe at any level until it looses itself, not the chain obsessed of keeping itself intact. Because ultimately both shall vanish. One with stress, the other with rust. Ah!! Rust, the punishment of attempts of self-preservation, the divine enforcement of mortality. Rust!!

Of Brands and Knock-offs

blog-counterfeit-bill

If you’re very low on budget like me, you might be somewhat brandophobic. However I’ve lately realized that buying branded doesn’t necessarily mean buying expensive, a fact not easily apparent. After years of shopping in the local markets and abroad I’ve seen prices of non-branded products rise so much and, at the same time, lots of cheap brands entering the markets. Today you can easily find a branded product for the price of a non-branded one.

Why buy branded?

Because brands care for reputation, and improved quality and originality come as desirable side effect. Because those may actually save you money for their added durability, especially if you go for entry-level branded products. Quite importantly, wearing, consuming or using  brands always feels good regardless of the price tags. Why? Well you shouldn’t be interested in the complex reasons as long as you realize this is true.

What is a branded product, or a brand?

Simple. A brand is a company emphasizing over it’s identity and therefore marketing it’s product and itself boldly over any medium suiting its needs. A brand will always have a website, and a phone or email for customer services and complaints. A brand is expected not to vanish into thin air after some time of business, it is expected to stay in the market for long, if not forever. Branded products are well  supported, these come with proper User Manuals, warranties and after-sale servicing. By these standards, even QMobile, the cheapo Chinese phones company, is a brand. See? Branded needn’t be pricey.

Knock-offs?

Every brand has parasites, parasites that feed upon it’s marketing and repute for selling lower quality products. Knock-offs sell well because these are cheap and because sometimes the difference between those and the  original are hard to point out. While many people buy these deliberately, most end up buying them without the slightest realization that they’re paying for a fake product.

How to know if what you’re buying is the real thing?

Even an expert can get fooled, but if you keep a few things in mind, the chances shall be very low…

  1. “Look at this shop, wow… it looks so professional. This shop markets itself so boldly, and oh! look at the state-of-the-art interiors and friendly staff.” Common sense says I have good chances of getting the real deal here, truth can be otherwise. Never ever consider the apparent standard of the retailer relevant. What’s more important is the retailers repute, something you cannot know by simply walking into the glittering shop, something that needs your being social and being mindful of the reviews floating around you. Never rely on even the repute alone.
  2. Whenever possible, find an authorized retailer in your area through the brand’s website. If there is none, you may try dropping in an email to the brand’s customer services and asking if there is any way you can find the product in your area.
  3. Do some research. See what sizes, colors, and packaging the product is available in. It’s ironic that knock-offs come in a wider range of colors and “trims” than the original. Google for “Real vs Counterfeit ”  and you may actually find some forum or even tips from the manufacturer on the important differences to look for. Also keep the approximate price of the product in mind. If the product in the market is significantly cheaper than the real price you know, chances are that you’re being fooled.
  4. Never buy something without a bar code. Also, the bar code should be different in other articles of the same brand stacked around the one you’re intending to buy. I was saved from buying a knock-off by this latter simple tip and honestly, that served as the inspiration for this blog post.
  5. Ask the retailer for warranty for the product’s originality. If they refuse, walk out.
  6. Looking for the product’s finish and the quality of it’s packaging is a good crude way to point out fakes, but that needs some practice and experience. Nevertheless you may always look for typos over the packaging. Luckily many knockoffs from Asia have entertaining Engrish over them. If the product comes with a hologram according to your prior research, it must have one.
  7. Don’t buy products without their packaging e.g shoes without the box and watches without their casings. Originals only rarely come without packaging.

Happy shopping.

7 Confessions

7 personal things about me you didn’t apparently know.

ONE: I keep myself unconscious of the beauties of life as much as I can. I hate life, only because it will vanish one day.
TWO: To me, the most refined form of art is Music. It delivers what, and where, most other forms of art cannot.
THREE: I had made a secret society when I was 12.
FOUR: I am a moral nihilist.
FIVE: I talk to myself during midnight, while ambling under the starry sky.
SIX: I still cry, so much that my clothes get drenched. Not that anybody knows when I do it. Here’s what makes me cry.
SEVEN: My alter ego is much more successful than the real myself. It even makes it into the news.

THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN IN RESPONSE TO THIS POST