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NEW YORK: The World Economic Forum held the EDISON Alliance Champions Deputies & Executive Network Meeting to discuss the 2022 roadmap, share commitments and initiatives, as well as calls for action to scale partnerships prior to the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting scheduled to take place in Davos in the last week of May.

The EDISON Alliance provides a platform for partnership between governments, industries, and people to advance digital inclusion as a foundation for achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. While private sector-led, it is the result of collaboration between financial inclusion industry leaders, governments and international organisations, who together formed an industry-led working group on financial inclusion.

Salman Ali, CEO of VRG (Virtual Remittance Gateway) participated in the meeting along with Ali Shah Asani (CEO iPath) and reaffirmed VRG’s commitment to bring 50 million or about 40 percent of Pakistan’s adult population under the financial ambit by 2024 through successful partnerships in the public sector.

Asaan ‘Easy’ Mobile Account is a revolutionary initiative undertaken by the State Bank of Pakistan and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, under Pakistan’s National Financial Inclusion Strategy. The scheme was mandated to Virtual Remittance Gateway (Pvt) Ltd, a member of the Pathfinder Group of Companies in 2017.

Asaan Mobile Account Scheme (“AMA”) works on the USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) technology and the platform is accessible from any phone in the country by dialing a universal code *2262#. Geared towards the unbanked population the service can be accessed using a basic feature phone on any telecom service provider as no Internet or application is required. Therefore, every Pakistani has the accessibility to instantly open a bank account and undertake financial transactions on the go.

The Platform enables instant account opening by interconnecting all telecom players with all branchless banks, whereas with seamless integration with NADRA (National Database and Registration Authority) and Pakistan MNP Database enables banks to instantaneously authenticate mobile connection against customer provided identity credentials along with the retrieval of KYC (Know Your Customer) data from NADRA which is processed to open an account in under a minute.

The service has received an overwhelming response and has gained tremendous momentum in the country since its soft launch on 13th December, 2021. AMA gained 4 million+ customers on the platform who have performed transactions amounting over $166 million in the first 4 months since launch.

With the launch of RAAST, SBP’s instant payment system, and with AMA the State Bank of Pakistan has a dynamic-duo, to set a staunch foothold in the enablement, access of affordable, dependable and cost-effective digital financial payment services to the masses. A tremendous feat achieved by bringing together the best in digital payment services on the fingertips of the common man.

Both schemes can together provide the channel to enable a multitude of payment services, beginning from P2P (Person-to-Person) to merchant payments, and paving the way for advanced services such as micro-loans, small value international remittances, G2P (Government-to-Person) disbursements, etc.

It was a great honour for VRG to participate in this meeting of the World Economic Forum and it was indicated that because of the VRG platform WEF will seriously consider to make one of the LIGHTHOUSE countries of the financial inclusion focus area. This would be a great honour for Pakistan to be considered in the forefront of financial inclusion technology and recognized this great partnership.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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