The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the customers of banks to use the internet and Mobile banking which recorded immense growth in transactions in the past two quarters.
According to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), the transactions carried out by internet banking users crossed the Rs. 1 trillion mark in the first quarter of the financial year 2020-21. It stood at Rs. 1.085 trillion with a 21 percent growth from the previous quarter. In the fourth quarter of the proceeding financial year from April to June, which was the peak period of lockdown across the country, the transaction values through internet banking stood at Rs. 894 billion with 19.5 percent growth from the previous quarter.
In the previous two quarters, the transaction under internet banking stood at Rs. 748 billion and Rs. 736 billion respectively. The growth was mainly due to customers switching to digital banking from the conventional practice of branch visits.
State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has taken commendable action to reduce branch visits to avoid the risk of the virus spreading. It waved off charges on digital banking, including interbank transfer and utility bill payments, etc. On the other hand, the banking regulator simplified the process of registration of customers for using the internet and mobile banking.
In the last two quarters, transaction values through mobile banking stood at Rs. 908 billion and Rs. 621 billion during the lockdown period as against the values of two previous quarters, which stood at Rs.467 billion and Rs. 382 billion.
Mobile Banking Users
The number of mobile banking users also surged from 8.18 million to 8.96 million during the said period. Digital banking not only provided a convenient experience to new users, but it also helped banks to manage their operations during the testing times with a limited number of bankers at the branches.
The digital banking of commercial and microfinance remains free of cost across the country. Although it reduced the earning of the banks, it also saved the expenses of dealing with customers through bankers.