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National policy on the cards for creating digital market in Pakistan

More services like Uber and Careem in the pipeline

The success story of Uber and Careem to follow more digital based services as the Regulator would soon launch more services in Pakistan like Uber and Careem, the Apps to call cabs at the commuter’s door. “It is worth mentioning that a total of 110 million transactions worth around Rs520 billion were carried out during quarter of July-September 2016 as a result of increasing e-commerce market,” said. Dr. Syed Ismail Shah, Chairman, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) in Karachi.

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) in collaboration with Ministry of Commerce developing a national policy on e-commerce to attract foreign investment for establishing a desired digital market in the country. “The Policy shall support and work towards building desired ecosystem in the e-commerce market and also to encourage local trade and foreign investments in the country,  Ashraf Mahmood Wathra, Governor, SBP, said at the 10th Jazzcash International Mobile Conference in Pakistan, recently.

The Governor SBP said he has been part of the conference on regular basis for the last four years. The central bank was aware that the high cost on e-payment was “due to risk associated with online payments, but we are also mindful that new mechanism for proactive fraud detection are being developed to safeguard the merchants, consumers and their banks from losses.”

Keeping in view the development, he urged upon banks and payment schemes to rationalize the cost of transactions on e-payment to further boost mobile and e-commerce in Pakistan. He said the central bank has allowed the entry of non-banks – Payment System Operators and Service Providers (PSO/PSPs) into the domain of payment services through intensive regulations in 2014. However, “their effectiveness remains yet to be seen,” he said.

He noted that the number of m-wallet accounts stood at more than 16 million in the country. However, majority of these wallets were still inactive. Even though, branchless banking industry has seen acceleration and basic financial services can now be accessed in remotest parts of the country through agent network of around 350,000. He urged upon the industry players of e-commerce to join hands for strengthening digital market instead of trying to dominate each other. He also urged upon them to keep investing in technology and big data houses to keep up with the world markets.

Nadeem Hussain, Founder & Coach, Planet N Group of Companies, said Pakistan was evolving through digital revolution, which directly contributed towards economic growth of the country. The revolution has allowed people to open basic bank account via using mobile phones literally in one minute and purchase half a dozen oranges against digital cash.

“The time is not far when a woman in a remote area would have access to main markets for her products through six clicks only,” he said. He said 8-10 entities were establishing big data houses in Pakistan that would pace up the revolution. However, challenge remained with the industry players as how to get activated the dormant m-wallet accounts.

Ghazanfar Azzam, President & CEO, Mobilink Microfinance Bank, said that the number of active m-wallet accounts stood at two million only. “Telecom led banks are aimed to increase number of m-wallet accounts to 50 million by 2020,” he said.

Ali Riaz Chaudhry, President, & CEO, Telenor Microfinance Bank, said that industry players should join hands together to fight against poverty, as this would help them achieve the goal of financial inclusion. He anticipated agriculture as potential growth area for e-commerce.

Mudassar Aqil, CCEO, FINCA Microfinance Bank, suggested making e-payment transactions free of cost to acquire desired results. The conference also held two panel discussions on the topics (1) Challenges and Solution to Mobile Payment Adoptability; (2) Digital Pakistan and (3) Vision for Ecosystem in 2020.

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