The emergence of innovative business models and technological advancements has given rise to new projects in Pakistan including ride hailing services, online delivery services, e-commerce and much more, all of which is connected to online banking and mobile devices. Though we are hearing about the fintech developments for years now but when it comes to its adoptability, Pakistan is still at a nascent stage. Need of Roadmap for Bringing Financial Inclusion to Pakistan
No doubt, we have seen a shift in consumer behaviour and their adaptability to new technology has aided the transition but if I will say it is equal to the pinch of salt, I will not be wrong as 80 percent of our population is still financially excluded. State bank of Pakistan had drawn a National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) asking banks to increase the adoption of financial services in Pakistan. Sadly, the industry players have merely focused on the adoption of basic current accounts and have not been able to promote digital financial services which is evident from the extremely low rate of financial inclusion. Now the eyes are stagnant towards the private companies to bring revolution in terms of financial inclusion in Pakistan. Though private companies including Finca, Karandaaz and MVNOs are launching initiatives to promote financial inclusion in Pakistan but we want more such companies to support this cause.
Karandaaz along with many partners is also providing digital financial services in Pakistan, helping nation to adopt new technological interventions. Telenor Microfinance Bank has adopted a futuristic approach in the shape of EasyPaisa, which had been awarded with Financial innovation awards in 2016 for the very right reason. The ever increasing usage in most vulnerable areas clearly shows that we need more such innovative projects, services or initiatives for the welfare of Pakistan and the people living here.
Considering the other aspects, Pakistan is actually lagging behind digital services in terms of mobile phone ownership. Mobile devices offers the most extensive access to the internet and digital technologies. The adoption to these technologies is vital to Pakistan’s economy and its growth in increasingly connected world. For increasing mobile phone ownership, government and private sector should work together towards digital Pakistan promoting financial inclusion to the most deprived areas as well. Karandaaz has remain vocal about making mobile money accessible in Pakistan and has produced several reports sharing how we can we build a bridge between these services and common man. Other than bank and digital financial companies, mobile industry plays an important part to deliver transformational changes in the digital era and ensure that we bridge the digital divide.
One of the aspect that is a barrier to the financial inclusion in Pakistan is high taxes on mobile phone devices. Now we need to understand that owning a mobile phone is not a luxury anymore, in fact it is a gate way to the financial services which in turn will have positive impacts on Pakistan’s economy.
We need to work more on building awareness among semi-urban and rural areas where the adoption of such technologies is still considered a taboo. By recommending digital platforms and solution for the daily lives of such people will help the underprivileged populations to adopt a digital lifestyle with vital impact on socio economic indicators.
Furthermore, instead of solely relying on banks, government should plan more such initiatives that are sustainable and suitable for Pakistan helping bridging the digital divide in our societies. To bring financial inclusion in Pakistan, each and every organization will have to play its part.