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KARACHI: Deputy Governor State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Sima Kamil on Sunday said that Pakistan has 50 million financially excluded persons, who can easily be banked through digitization, and financial inclusion.

She was addressing at the formal launch of ‘Aam Aadmi ki Azaadi’ Asaan Mobile Account (AMA) -an SBP and PTA’s financial inclusion scheme.

She asked the banking sector to make efforts for the real financial inclusion beyond opening of a bank account, and come up with services for the fulfilment of a customer’s saving needs, investment needs, micro insurance, and above all the credit needs.

The event was organized by Pathfinder Group and VRG at a local hotel.

Sima said that 10 percent of the total bank accounts have only one transaction in the past one year. Only one out of the three women has an active bank account. A considerable number of women especially in rural areas of the country are not allowed to even have cell-phone in this country. This is an alarming situation and the stakeholders must think on this.

She said Financial Inclusion is much beyond an opening a bank account. An individual needs from a bank more than a bank account.

This journey of AMA began back in 2016 under the branchless banking regulations. In 2016 the country had 66 million accounts, and at the end of December 2021, the figure has gone up to 147 million. That’s a huge growth of 122 percent in five years, and half of these accounts 77 million are branchless banking accounts.

With a population of around 220 million people, Pakistan has hardly 57 percent banking account ownership, as compared to global average of 76 percent, she said.

Sharing the broader picture of digitization in Pakistan, former Governor SBP Raza Baqir said that the total number of bank apps on people’s phone in Pakistan is 21 million. Out of which, 18 million people have Raast ID.

Quoting an SBP report on payments, he said that from July 2021 to March 2022 the total number of e-banking transactions stood around 1.1 billion as compared to 860 million transactions in the 9 months of the previous year, which comes to a growth of 36 percent.

The figures in terms of value stood around Rs 63 trillion in FY 21. He hoped that by the end of this financial year, it would be well around Rs120 trillion.

He said the initiatives SBP has taken in last few years are going to deliver greatly as for as financial inclusion is concerned.

He said the licensing framework for the digital banking is another good initiative and soon the SBP will announce progress in this regard. Once licenses are awarded for digital banks, it’s going to be another game changer to make it easy for people to bank, save and to invest.

The other speakers were Dr. Huma Baqai, Zarrar Sehgal Co-Chairman Pathfinder Group and VRG, Salman Ali CEO VRG, Ali Naseer CBO Jazz, while Maj Gen Azeem Bajwa Chairman PTA spoke to the participants through a video message.

Ikram Sehgal Chairman Pathfinder Group and VRG gave vote of thanks.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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