Saturday, March 12, 2016

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Interoperability among branchless banks to be enabled soon: Governor State Bank

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) are working jointly to enable interoperability among existing branchless banks operating in the country.



 "We are creating such facilities that make possible financial transactions from a branchless bank account on a mobile phone network to another one," said Ashraf Mahmood Wathra, Governor, State Bank of Pakistan.

He said this at the 9th international mobile commerce conference 'mobicash mobile commerce 2016' held on Thursday here at a local hotel. The conference was organized by Total Communications in collaboration with the two regulators.
 Governor said the project of enabling interoperability has reached an advanced stage. "The implementation may take more time," he said.


 He said they have also developed an online application named Agentchex.

This would help monitoring branchless banks accounts' agents’ activities and transactions activities so that no misuse of the funds transferring can be made.

The aggregate network of branchless banking agents has reached almost 300,000 across Pakistan up to December 2015, he said.



"Currently, nine branchless banking deployments are live in the market, while four banks are on pilot roll out phase," MR. Wathra said.Up to December 2015,over 15 million customers hold branchless banking accounts.

For the last three quarters, about 100 million transactions amounting up to Rs.500 billion are being carried out on average in each quarter in the branchless banking system. "The average size of mobile banking transactions is around Rs.5,200," he said.

Dr. Syed Ismail Shah, Chairman, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority said higher rate of taxation was one of the major hurdles in the way of branchless banking. "However, finance minister has listened us in details on the issue this time. I hope for a meaningful outcome, as the government is considering {our budget proposals}," he said.

 He urged branchless bankers to develop value-added services for the existing account-holders to speed up growth in the sector. Besides, they may continue making efforts to bring-in unbanked people into the system.

He said mobile phone banking was not a petty development. "This is a complete banking system developed with IT and telecom revolution," he said.

There was a perception that branchless banking was developed to facilitate only poor segment of the society, which was incorrect, he said.

 Irfan Siddiqui, President & CEO, Meezan Bank, announced to roll-out mobile wallet products very soon. "Commercial banks would become history like investment banks in recent past

Jeffrey Hedberg, CEO, Mobilink, said the government polices helped growing the economy through digital devices. He said the security was improving on daily basis and helped return of stability on macro economy in the country. "Such enabling environment may attract more investment in the digital sector," he said.

Hasnain A. Sheikh, Chairman & CEO, Inov8, said hectic use of social websites like facebook, instagram and whatsapp was defining consumers behavior and help developing products in demand. "Some 77 percent people having smartphones do frequently use the social websites," he said.

Atif Bajwa, President & CEO, Bank Alfalah, said urged banks and telecom companies to work together for fast growth in their respective sectors. "Last year was a good year for industry growth," he said.

Besides, the one-day conference held three panel discussions on Digital Commerce in Pakistan, Building the Eco System – Digital Acceptance at Merchants and Paypals of Pakistan.

Yahya Khan, Head of Easypaisa said with the largest and most innovative product portfolio, Easypaisa has transformed the financial services landscape in Pakistan. In today’s digital world where mobile is at the heart of all the big changes that we see around us, mobile financial services present virtually unlimited possibilities.

"We are committed to empower people through financial inclusion and subsequently accelerate socio-economic development by offering solutions as per the evolving financial needs and preferences of our customers," he said.


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