Branchless Banking: Mobile accounts still a fraction of total transactions in Pakistan

Monday, September 30, 2013

KARACHI: ’Phenomenal’ is the word that best describes the emergence of branchless banking in Pakistan in recent years.

After all, the latest quarter-on-quarter increase of 16% in the number of branchless banking transactions for January-March, the most recent three-month data the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has released, is by no means a small feat.

However, while the SBP believes growth expectation in coming quarters is “fairly high,” dominant players in branchless banking say it is time the industry progressed from the over-the-counter (OTC) business model to mobile accounts.

“The number of transactions carried out through mobile accounts is only a fraction of the total transactions carried out through OTC,” said Roar Bjaerum, Vice President of Financial Services at Telenor Pakistan, while speaking to The Express Tribune in a recent interview.

Indeed, 83% of all mobile money transactions in Pakistan are carried out through OTC channels rather than through an account, the SBP said in a recent report while citing a mobile money survey by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Pakistan.

“We have launched low-end savings products, insurance products, salary disbursement products and ATM cards that are built around mobile accounts through Easypaisa,” he said while referring to Telenor’s branchless banking service that it has been operating in Pakistan since 2009 in partnership with Tameer Microfinance Bank.

Source: The Express Tribune (link opens in a new window)