App helps monks handle money without handling money

Monk Phramaha Sombut Pramua with the card reader which allows smartphone giving and, below, the city templeIt’s a conundrum that has existed for more than two thousand years: How does a monk forbidden from directly accepting or handling cash receive donations on behalf of the sangha?

Monks at the Dhammapadipa Temple in Edinburgh, Scotland, may have found a solution: an iZettle credit-card reader that attaches to mobile phones so that donations can be made anywhere, on the fly, and without any actual cash changing hands.

Most such services come at a cost that would have been prohibitive to the temple, but iZettle stepped forward to help. “We’re delighted,” says Nina Fernstrom, strategic partnership developer at iZettle, “to be helping with the monks’ efforts to raise money for a new building in Edinburgh.”

Abbot Watana Somboon explains, “Monks are not allowed to touch money, so this is a very modern way of getting around a very old problem. Ideally we would appoint lay people to use the card device, after which the monk blesses the person who has given the donation. But even if there is no lay person in the temple, the monks can use this.”

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