Branchless banking companies failed to re-activate dormant m-wallet accounts despite back to back promotional activities and incentivized offers, causing a massive correction of the account holder base which declined by over 40 percent.
According to the latest data updated by Pakistan Microfinance Network (PMN), the number of savings m-wallets decreased from 26.6 million to 18.94 million, as 7.6 million m-wallet saving accounts of branchless banking services were closed. These services also closed off 5 percent of m-wallet accounts other than savings accounts.
The correction in the m-wallet account holders’ base was carried out mainly due to the recent regulations of the central bank which introduced a new criterion for m-wallet accounts. Accordingly, all m-wallet account holders were required to perform at least one transaction in 90 days, otherwise, the account is not included among active account holders’ base and the customer has to reopen his or her account if needed.
There are account holders, who opened up their accounts on CNIC record previously, failed to perform their biometric verification in the period of deadline resulting closure of m-wallet accounts.
There over 10 branchless banking services operated by different commercial and microfinance banks and telecom operators.
The branchless banking services not only introduced various discount offers in collaboration with different e-commerce companies but they also provide incentives such as cashback to attract account holders to use the accounts but these efforts could not achieve remarkable results.
Branchless Banking services were supposed to penetrate in the rural areas of the country but business penetration is largely active in urban areas, in direct competition with commercial banks. Poverty, illiteracy and lack of financial knowledge are some of the challenges to branchless banking services.
Surprisingly, the utility of m-wallet services in urban and rural areas is quite encouraging for funds transfer, bills payment, mobile top-ups, G2P, etc.
In the last quarter of July to September, m-wallet users made 44 million transactions valuing Rs. 154 billion as per data available on the website of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) that also included an amount of Rs. 47 million received from overseas Pakistanis.
It is expected that the user of m-wallet account will rise again steadily with the expansion of branchless banking agents in remote areas, tools such as mobile apps and the availability of mobile broadband services.
There are 42 million accounts maintained by microfinance banks including m-wallet accounts, states Pakistan Microfinance Network.