Pakistan 2.0: Digital Financial Services, e-Government, Internet & Online Payments

by Yousaf Ghous

It is not long ago (2007) since Banking Policy and Regulation Department of the State Bank of Pakistan released its policy paper on regulatory framework for mobile banking in Pakistan. A year later SBP issued branchless banking regulations and early July-15, Wall Street Journal’s Financial Inclusion Challenge was won by Pakistan’s Telenor EasyPaisa.

The drive to make use of state of the art technologies started with National Database & Registration Authority (NADRA) surfacing in 2000 which spurred an ever growing revolution on use of technology. NADRA has earned international appreciation for its achievement in providing solutions for identification, e-governance and secure documents.

Internet is one of the key drivers in digital transformation and its penetration in Pakistan has seen exponential growth in recent years. Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, taking the right decisions at the right time, has helped enabling every individual with internet access. The latest statistics show that nowadays more than 80% of the population of Pakistan has access to mobile phones.

The latest statistics show that nowadays more than 80% of the population of Pakistan has access to mobile phones.

Thanks to both the proliferation of 3G enabled cheap smartphones present in the market and the price war coming from the telecom industry for providing an active yet affordable internet experience to customers in Pakistan, the countries’ latest digital statistics are encouraging and will give a boost to smartphone app based revolution.

The Pakistan market enjoys exponentially growing Internet Penetration, with more than 32 Million Internet Users and 21% of users are active via tablets and smartphones. Pakistan has been able to achieve a fair balance between adoption of latest technologies and its ability to deliver superior customer experience.

Although many of us tend to think it is a miracle but connecting the dots, it turns out to be the outcome of vision, planning, and implementation with the pure intent to raise the bar of digital transformation supporting financial inclusion in Pakistan. As the IMF recently said, Pakistan has succeeded in stabilizing its economy, but steady implementation of reforms will be vital if the country hopes to find a place among the world’s fast-growing emerging markets and this is a clear indication that Pakistan is on the right course.

Pakistan has succeeded in stabilizing its economy but steady implementation of reforms will be vital if the country hopes to find a place among the world’s fast-growing emerging markets

Taking a bird’s eye view of technological evolution in Pakistan in the past decade and you will see a strong foundation for digital transformation i.e. Pakistan 2.0. The building blocks which are required for a digital eco system are very well established. State Bank of Pakistan has recently published National Financial Inclusion Strategy for Pakistan for 2020. The framework presented in the strategy is built on the building blocks mentioned below.

Going forward and building the eco system should be the focus. Enabling the society to TRUST digital way of living is critical to the success of Pakistan 2.0.

Digital transformation places customers at the center of the ecosystem. In Pakistan, it will be an uphill task to educate end users and alongside boost adoption to generate enough transactions to fuel the business initiatives.

Key Points About Digitalization:

To conclude, here are some food for thought and probing questions about the switch to digitalization:

  • What is the usability & user interaction design needs of customers in Pakistan?
  • Customers will soon demand Omni-channel customer experience, do you know what it takes to achieve that?
  • Pure digital banking can be a way to avoid dependency on traditional telecom channels e.g. USSD.
  • How secure are financial transactions in the wake of mobile and digital wallets?
  • Payments have different forms i.e. contactless payments, proximity, token based, mobile, online… one size does not fit all; do you know what are your customers’ preferences in payments?

Pakistan has entered an exciting journey with limitless possibilities in the world of digitalization and it’ll be interesting to see how theses initiatives are supported, bringing trust and convenience to enable Pakistanis to deliver on the promises of the digital world. And in Pakistan, digital security is the tip of the iceberg and sky is the limit!

Yousaf Ghous is the CEO of Gemalto Pakistan and has a background in the full life cycle of projects from initial conception to product requirements, coordinating different areas within the organization including Sales, Marketing, Application development, Customer services and maintaining a healthy relationship with customers/suppliers.

  • Great..!! Yesterday, Earth v2 was discovered and now Pakistan v2. LOL…!!

  • I am not convinced about the argument that 80% of Pakistani people have mobiles, because according world bank poverty head count analysis of 2014, over half of the population is living under the poverty line.

    • Trust me this 80% thing is valid. In our village people doesnt get to eat 3 times full stomach meal but they surely have mobile phones in their pockets. N let me tell u that my village might be the poorest in Pakistan.

    • The definition of poverty is being done as the wrong way as it should be in terms of calories because the person who earns $30,000 per year in the USA will be considered a poor person, but if the same person comes in Pakistan he will be richer than Aamir Atta. the admin of Propakistan. :P

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