KARACHI: State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Dr Reza Baqir on Monday launched the Asaan Mobile Account (AMA), which allows opening of a branchless banking account on a mobile phone, a statement said.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Baqir thanked the stakeholders for their contributions that culminated into the successful launch of the AMA initiative. He said that AMA is expected to bring a significant increase in bank accounts opening and the lack of internet access or proximity to branchless banking outlets/bank branches would no longer be barriers for Pakistanis to access financial services.
He said that the AMA would play an important role in enhancing digital access and use of formal financial services in the country, adding that Pakistan has over 187 million biometrically verified mobile subscribers with the teledensity of around 85 percent; however; there are only 106 million 3G/4G subscribers with the mobile internet penetration standing at 48 percent.
“This gives us the potential market of around 81 million mobile subscribers, which don’t have access to the internet and could become users of AMA if provided with the right value proposition,” he further said.
AMA is an initiative of the central bank to achieve the National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) target of promoting digital financial inclusion in the country. AMA has been launched with the key support of various stakeholders, including Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), National Database registration Authority (Nadra), branchless banking providers, cellular mobile operators (CMOs) and virtual remittance gateway.
VRG has been licensed jointly by the SBP and PTA under the regulations for mobile banking interoperability.
The bank account can be opened by dialing a simple code *2262# on a mobile phone. The account holder can then deposit money in his or her account at any branchless banking agent and use the same for transactions through mobile phone.
AMA will particularly help the low-income segments with non-digital phones and no access to internet to enjoy banking, as it offers a simpler process, such as dialing a code, to avail financial services.
Moreover, AMA will be a highly suitable platform to onboard Pakistani women customer segments, as well, since they face greater obstacles in accessing formal financial services due to mobility, cultural and documentation issues. AMA with its ease of use will be instrumental in bringing the next 50 million Pakistanis under the banking ambit.
This initiative is also in line with the government of Pakistan’s holistic approach of “Digital Pakistan” initiative to enhance access and connectivity, digital infrastructure, and innovation. Now, the government will also have the option to use this channel for disbursing money under the flagship poverty alleviation Ehsaas Programme to reach 15 million beneficiaries.
The ceremony also witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) among 13 branchless banking service providers. The MoU was signed to affirm their commitment in facilitating customers through continued collaboration for more innovations in line with the NFIS vision. – TLTP