Out of 38.5 million mobile wallet accounts, 53 percent are inactive in the country due to a lack of convenient options to use those funds for day to day transactions, official documents reveal.
The country is well behind its Digital Financial Services (DFS) growth potential available through over 150 million biometrically-verified mobile connections across the country.
In order to tap this potential, the DFS ecosystem needs to evolve to a state where consumers and businesses feel comfortable to leave their funds in digital form rather than cash, recommends Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).
The Authority has recommended that the first step towards this direction is the delivery of bulk payments including Government to Person (G2P) and Business to Person (B2P) payments through mobile wallet accounts.
Payments through these wallet accounts should be acceptable and as easy as paying cash at the merchants’ outlets. However, consumers do not keep their funds in the digital wallets and mostly use cash as they do not find utility in keeping their funds digital, due to lack of convenient options to use those funds for day to day transactions.
Official documents maintain that the DFS ecosystem has provided a reasonable base for the uptake of digital financial services in the country. According to the Finance Survey 2015, 23 percent of the adult population has access to formal financial institutions compared to only 12 percent in 2008. This has further improved during the last two years, as according to Findex 2017, account ownership in Pakistan has increased to 21 percent from 13 percent in 2014.
This increase was due to a rise in branchless/mobile banking accounts which have increased to 38.5 million at the end of March 2018, which is more than double the figure of 15 million at the end of 2015.
It is important to highlight that since the biometric verification of mobile connections in 2015, 23.5 million new branchless banking accounts were added in the market.
The government has initiated delivery of BISP (Benazir Income Support Program) payments through wallet accounts which is the biggest program of poverty alleviation in Pakistan.
Many other G2P payments can be channelized through mobile wallets. Secondly, payments across different channels should be ubiquitous and interoperable for the consumers, wherein, anyone can transfer money to anyone through any channel.
In this direction, PTA and SBP have initiated joint licensing of TPSPs for interoperability of digital financial services under the any-to-any model, however, a lot more effort is required to accomplish large-scale interoperability.
Thirdly, the delivery of additional services including savings, insurances, investments, and loans through digital wallets can be an enabler to achieve long-term financial inclusion targets and sustainability of the digital financial services in the country.
For overall success, the development of consumers’ trust in digital technologies is crucial.