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Business & Finance

SBP allows opening of ‘Asaan Mobile Account’

  • Pakistan Telecommunication Authority will provide technical assistance for the initiative
Published August 14, 2022
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ISLAMABAD: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has allowed the opening of Asaan Mobile Account (AMA) for which the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) will provide technical assistance.

The AMA platform has been launched under the National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) that aims to facilitate general masses, especially the low income segments, to digitally open their BB accounts and use the available financial services in a swift, easy and affordable manner.

The AMA aims to address financial exclusion challenges faced by the unbanked segments of society by providing them an easy, affordable, and digital access to financial services. The AMA can be opened by simply dialing the USSD code *2262# from any mobile phone (smart or simple feature phone) through any mobile network, without the need for internet connectivity. Customers can choose their preferred bank from a list of branchless banking providers and avail of several banking services including fund transfer, deposit, bill payments, mobile top-up, balance inquiry, etc.

The solution has been developed through 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), a financial technology company.

For AMA, the branchless banking providers and cellular mobile operators are collaborating under the Third Party Service Provider (TPSP) regulations to deliver an interoperable platform, allowing any Pakistani to open an account with a bank. VRG, which is the only company dually licensed by the PTA and SBP, created its own USSD platform under the license aimed at providing access to the financial services to millions of unbanked Pakistanis, enabling them to reach banking services from any type of phone, without 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi or Internet.

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During its extended pilot phase, VRG had more than 1 million people open their AMA accounts, and conducted over 11 million bank transactions worth over Rs6 billion through this channel. VRG now has approval for a commercial launch.

The launch of AMA 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 central said.

On Friday, August 12, the State Bank, in collaboration with the PTA and UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO), formally unveiled the mass media campaign for the AMA.

The mass media campaign has been launched across the country which is expected to play a crucial role in spreading digital financial inclusion among all, especially among the low-income segments and women with mobile phones who may not have access to the internet and wish to have a simpler way to avail financial services. The AMA scheme will be a perfect conduit to onboard women customer segments as Pakistani women face distinct obstacles in accessing formal financial services due to mobility and documentation hassles.

Currently, there are 13 branchless banking (BB) provider banks available on AMA platform. Customers can open bank accounts instantaneously in any of the given bank and conduct transactions available on the AMA platform.

The SBP launched Asaan Mobile Account scheme in December 2021 in collaboration with PTA. As per the SBP statistics, since the soft launch of the scheme, more than 3.3 million accounts have been opened, while 6.1 million financial transactions worth Rs40.5 billion have been conducted so far.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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