The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) launched a new initiative, Asaan Mobile Account (AMA), under the National Financial Inclusion Strategy, with the objective to bring further ease in remote account opening under branchless banking.
This means that the customers would be able to open and operate their accounts in the comfort of their homes without having to visit the branches with any of the participating branchless banking providers.
The solution has been developed through a collaboration of SBP, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), 13 Branchless Banking (BB) providers, all Cellular Mobile Operators (CMOs), and Virtual Remittance Gateway (VRG). For AMA, the branchless banking providers and CMOs are collaborating to deliver an interoperable platform, allowing any Pakistani to open an account with a bank.
How AMA works?
Through the Asaan Mobile Account (AMA) platform, any Pakistani holding a valid CNIC can open a bank account digitally in any AMA participating bank, from anywhere, at any time, by using the SIM of any mobile operator. The scheme allows individuals to access the AMA platform using a short code, i.e., *2262#, and make transactions through their basic/smart mobile phone without the need for internet connectivity.
- Send Money: Transfer funds to any bank account maintained at any Pakistani bank in a secure manner from your phone.
- Bill Payment: Pay mobile top-up and utility bill payments (electricity, telephone, gas, etc.) with ease from your phone.
- Balance Inquiry: Inquire the balance of funds in your account instantaneously from your phone.
- Change Account PIN: Change your bank account PIN code securely with ease from your phone.
- Mini Statement: Obtain a statement of account activity instantaneously from your phone.
- Account Closure: Instantaneously close your account from your phone.
Opening an account through AMA is extremely easy and quick, while it also provides the facility to link your existing Branchless Banking. AMA will play a crucial role in reaching out to the low-income segments that do not have access to the internet. Moreover, AMA will be a perfect conduit to onboard women customer segments as well.
AMA will particularly help low-income segments with non-digital phones and no access to the internet to enjoy banking as it offers a simpler process, such as dialing a code, to avail of financial services. Moreover, AMA will be a highly suitable platform to onboard Pakistani women customer segments as well, since they face greater obstacles in accessing formal financial services due to mobility, cultural, and documentation issues. AMA, with its ease of use, will be instrumental in bringing 50 million Pakistanis under the banking ambit.
This initiative is also in line with the Government of Pakistan’s holistic approach of the “Digital Pakistan” initiative to enhance access & connectivity, digital infrastructure, and innovation. Now, the Government will also have the option to use this channel for disbursing money under the flagship poverty alleviation Ehsaas Program to reach 15 million beneficiaries.
Reza Baqir Unveils Asaan Mobile Account
Governor State Bank of Pakistan, Dr. Reza Baqir, unveiled the Asaan Mobile Account (AMA) in a launch ceremony held at SBP headquarters in Karachi. While speaking at the occasion, Dr. Reza Baqir thanked the stakeholders for their contributions that culminated in the successful launch of the AMA initiative. He said that AMA is expected to bring a significant increase in bank account opening, and the lack of internet access or proximity to branchless banking outlets/bank branches would no longer be barriers for Pakistanis to access financial services.
Governor Baqir highlighted that the AMA would play a significant role in enhancing digital access and the use of formal financial services in the country. He added that Pakistan has over 187 million biometrically verified mobile subscribers with a Tele-density of around 85 percent, however, there are only 106 million 3G/4G subscribers with mobile internet penetration standing at 48 percent. This gives us the potential market of around 81 million mobile subscribers who don’t have access to the internet and could become users of AMA if provided with the right value proposition, he added.
The launch ceremony was chaired by Dr. Reza Baqir, Governor SBP, and attended by Deputy Governor SBP, Sima Kamil, Chairman PTA, Major General (R) Amir Azeem Bajwa HI (M), Chairman NADRA, Muhammad Tariq Malik, Ikram Sehgal, Chairman VRG.
The ceremony also witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) among 13 branchless banking service providers. The MoU was signed to affirm its commitment to facilitating customers through the continued collaboration for more innovations in line with the NFIS vision.