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Digital financial transactions showed strong growth in the country, revealed the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) in its Annual Payment Systems Review (PSR) for the fiscal year 2020-21 released on Friday.

According to the PSR, transactions processed through SBP’s large-value payments segment, known as Real-time Inter-Bank Settlement Mechanism (PRISM) recorded YoY growth of 60.0% by number of transactions (volume) and 12.8% by value.

Similarly, overall e-Banking transactions registered YoY growth of 31.1%, which highlights substantial increase in adaption of digital means for payments. This growth was spurred by major uptake in mobile banking (29% increase in the number of users, 133.6% and 178.7% increase in volume and value respectively) and internet banking (32% increase in the number of users, 65.1% and 91.7% increase in volume and value respectively).

The SBP said that the growth was achieved on the back of 27 banks offering app-based banking along with other entities offering innovative payment solutions for accepting digital transactions.

During FY21, digital payments adoption for retail transactions continued to show an upward trend. The number of card accepting point of sale (POS) machines saw a growth of 47%.

Transactions processed through POS machines reached as high as 88.8 million amounting to Rs453.1 billion, showing YoY growth of 26.3% by volume and 24.4% by value of transactions.

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A similar trend was reflected in e-commerce transactions as well. The number of e-commerce merchants reached 3,003 which shows double-digit growth of 76%. Consumers carried out 21.9 million online transactions worth Rs60.6 billion on these locally registered e-Commerce Merchants during the year FY21 which amounts to significant YoY growth of 114.8% and 74.1% by volume and value of transactions respectively.

The central bank opined that the trends point toward healthy growth in fostering a more digitally integrated economy.

Similarly, on the card issuance side, as on end-June 2021, there were 45.9 million total cards in circulation that mainly comprised of debit cards (65.0%), social welfare cards (18.4%), ATM only cards (12.6%), credit cards (3.7%), and prepaid cards (0.3%).

Collectively, these cards processed 708.7 million transactions amounting to Rs8.4 trillion during FY2021.

The number of debit cards at the end of FY21 has been 29.8 million, observing a YoY growth of 11.8% and annualized growth of 13.8% during the last 4 years.

Transactions processed through ATMs also grew to 598.7 million with the total value of Rs8.1 trillion, showing a growth of 16.9% by volume and 25.6% by value on YoY basis.

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The country’s core payment systems infrastructure remained operationally resilient and all channels of payment systems showed significant growth, said the central bank.

“The SBP expects that going forward, the momentum of growth across all key areas of the digital payments ecosystem will continue to strengthen,” it added.

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