By Sheikh Hamza Qaiser
Everybody needs access to some sort of Banking services, be it for savings, fund transfers, bill payments or ATM cash withdrawals. But why do we still bank the way our parents did? The way our grandparents did?
Today most of us use Mobile Phones, so while we can talk to each other, send text messages, check e-mails, play games, watch videos, etc., why can’t we do banking transactions on our mobile phones?
In reality, you can. Mobile Wallets (or Mobile Accounts) are available to every Pakistani as a more efficient, convenient, reliable, and secure way of accessing Financial Services than the traditional Banking channels. Mobile Accounts also offer a much wider range of services that most of us are probably unaware of.
Below is a compilation of reasons why the Mobile Accounts are the new face of banking in Pakistan and if you don’t get up and running with a Mobile Account at your earliest, you will soon start feeling left out.
1. Use your Mobile Account, Any place, Any time
For something as simple as transferring money, you can either drive to a bank branch, bear the risk of carrying cash by hand, get a token, fill the deposit slip, wait for the your turn, deposit cash to the teller, find a place to keep your deposit slip safe and drive back home OR you can simply punch in the beneficiary’s account number on your mobile phone and press ‘send’ while you relax on the couch at home. Transactions done through Mobile Accounts provide you the ultimate convenience and save you time, fuel and a lot of hassle.
By virtue of your cellphone, you can now take your bank account wherever you go. That means no more sacrificing your lunch breaks at work to rush to your bank or waiting until the end of your vacation to make an important transaction. As long as you are in Pakistan, your bank account is with you at your home, work, gym, park, grocery store – everywhere.
Mobile Account transactions are working all the time; on weekends, bank holidays and public holidays and on any day when banks are closed for whatever reason. Also, you have the liberty of accessing your bank account after working hours, basically 24/7 365 quite literally.
2. The most secure Financial Services ever!
It doesn’t matter what Mobile Phone you have. You could have a smartphone or one of those old Nokia 1100’s. The Mobile Account works on all Mobile Phones because all you have to do is dial the code *786# and your Mobile Account will open up before you. Every transaction you do will be followed by a SMS message for your record. These messages can serve as a receipt as well.
And what happens if you lose your phone or your phone is stolen? Your money remains safe because just like an ATM, every transaction on your Mobile Account requires your secret PIN code. So just pick-up a replacement SIM, call the operator helpline and your Mobile Account will be up and running again.
3. Tens of thousands of shops
You probably didn’t know but all the banks in Pakistan combined have approximately 11,000 branches. Easypaisa alone has over 50,000 shops across the country, from airports to malls to convenience stores to the small pan shop at the end of your street – literally everywhere! Imagine the numbers of touch points when other operators come close to the figure of agents that can serve their customers from Gilgit to Karachi.
So if you need to open a Mobile Account, you walk into an Easypaisa shop and open a Mobile Account in 2 minutes for free. If you need to deposit funds into your Mobile Account, or withdraw cash from your Mobile Account, you can do it at any of these Easypaisa shops. So if you have an urgent need for cash late at night, with no ATM close by, just withdraw cash from the nearest Easypaisa shop!
4. Works with the existing system
Easypaisa was the first mobile money service to integrate with 1-Link and issue ATM Cards. You can purchase an ATM card from any Easypaisa shop, link it to your Mobile Account in seconds and then use this card at any ATM in Pakistan to withdraw funds. What happens if your card gets damaged, or lost or captured in the machine? Simply pick up another card at an Easypaisa shop and link it to your Mobile Account again. The lost card will become invalid automatically. No need to wait for weeks for the Bank to mail you a new one!
Furthermore, connected to 1-Link also means you can use the Interbank Funds Transfer service. If you need to move funds from an existing Bank Account to your Mobile Account, simply use the IBFT service to do so. If you want to move funds from your Mobile Account to any Bank Account, you can do that as well. When other mobile money services integrate with 1-Link, you can eventually move funds from your Mobile Account to another Mobile Account!
5. FREE transactions!
If you’re thinking that Mobile Accounts must be expensive, guess what? It’s absolutely free to deposit cash into your Mobile Account! It’s free to make Utility Bill Payments. Fund Transfers to other Mobile Accounts is absolutely free and charges drop significantly from Mobile Accounts to an Over-the-Counter customer.
6. Financial inclusion of the unbanked
If you have ever wished to contribute to the economy positively, simply start paying your domestic help at home via mobile accounts; your drivers, your cooks, your maids. These are the people who are still excluded from the Financial Services today. They don’t have access to banks, or the necessary documentation to open a Bank Account. As a result, they have to rely on informal financial services; savings, loans, remittances.
By opening Mobile Accounts and paying their salaries into their Mobile Accounts, you can empower them to start saving and doing their own financial transactions. It would be easier for you to make their payments on time; it would be much more convenient for them to send money back home to their families,
7. Widest range of products and services
Mobile Financial Services offer more products and services than a conventional bank account. Apart from utility bill payments and money transfer, you can easily pay your internet bills, purchase tickets from PIA, pickup and use ATM Cards, purchase easyload for your Mobile Phone or somebody else, and have access to a lot of customized savings and lending services. That’s not all, you can get health insurance and saving products with Mobile accounts as well.
Writer works with communication department of Telenor Pakistan.