At the end of last year, we reported that Pakistan was getting ready to invite tech giants like Amazon, PayPal and Ebay to the country. Anusha Rehman, Minister of State for IT and Telecom had said then that all regulatory arrangements had been made and the companies would be invited to start operations in the country.
7 months on, there’s been zero progress. Pakistan is already in Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) white list, which basically means we have internationally accepted anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing standards. This was previously one of the major hurdles towards a major company starting operations in Pakistan.
That’s not all. Despite a significant freelancing population and increasing internet penetration, there is still no solution for a payment gateway in Pakistan. The State Bank of Pakistan has set a prohibitive Rs. 200 million entry barrier for entrepreneurs willing to build a solution themselves and now, they’re sitting on idle hands.
Ecommerce is exploding in Pakistan. By 2020, it’s expected to be a $1 billion industry. As we’ve said before though, the only way we get there is if the consumers can trust online stores.
Despite horror stories and instances of flagrant violations of consumer rights, there’s no ecommerce framework to address consumers rights, dispute resolutions and all sorts of procedural and mechanical challenges of eommerce industry.
From the Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of IT and State Bank of Pakistan, we ask: when can we expect an update on anything? The given timeline was for a few weeks and it’s literally been months with zero communication and updates.
To Miss Rehman, we put forth a simple question: what’s taking so long? It seems like our elected representatives have myopia or the attention spans of gold fishes. As soon as there is a political scandal, like Panama Leaks these days, they obsess over it and forget everything else.
Are we going to resign ourselves to the fact that nothing will get done until the flavor of the month political scandal gets resolved? It’s time we got answers to empty promises and announcements that seem like they were only for the press coverage.