The State Bank of Pakistan launched Asaan Mobile Account to enhance digital access and formal financial services in Pakistan. The launch ceremony was chaired by Dr Reza Baqir and addressed by Sima Kamil, deputy governor of the SBP; PTA chairman Major General Amir Azeem Bajwa HI (M) (Retd), Nadra chairman Muhammad Tariq Malik and VRG chairman Ikram Sehgal. The launch event also witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding among 13 branchless banking service providers.
Asaan Mobile Account to bring 50 million Pakistanis under the banking ambit
While explaining the Asaan Mobile Account, the governor of State bank said that the AMA will particularly help low-income segments with non-digital phones and no access to the internet to enjoy financial services as accounts can now be opened simply by dialing a USSD code *2262# from any mobile phone through any mobile network, without requiring internet connectivity. He also added that AMA would be a highly suitable platform to bring forward Pakistani women customer lot 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.
It is important to mention here that the customers will have the choice to choose from any of the 13 branchless banking service providers that are currently offering AMA. This initiative is also in line with Pakistan’s “Digital Pakistan” initiative to enhance access and connectivity, digital infrastructure, and innovation. Dr. Baqir mentioned that Pakistan has over 187 million biometrically verified mobile phone subscribers with around 85 percent. However, there are only 106 million 3G/4G subscribers with mobile internet penetration standing at 48pc. This portrays a potential market of around 81m mobile subscribers who don’t have access to the internet and could become users of AMA if provided with the right value proposition.
The Ehsaas Program
According to a statement by SBP, “The government will also have the option to use this channel for disbursing money under the flagship poverty alleviation Ehsaas Program to reach 15 million beneficiaries.” Ehsaas Programme is a social safety and poverty alleviation programme launched by the Government of Pakistan in March 2019 to cater to the basic needs of deserving people, such as; health, nutrition, education, cash amount, and interest-free loans.