KARACHI: Mobilink is all set to enter the mobile banking segment as Waseela Bank – sister concern of Pakistan’s largest cellular operator – has obtained central bank’s approval to launch Mobile Financial Services (MFS) in Pakistan, sources familiar with the matter said and the company’s spokesperson also confirmed on Tuesday.
A subsidy of Orascom Telecom – Mobilink’s parent company – Waseela Bank is said to launch its MFS operations by December this year; the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) issued the licence on Monday, according to sources.
“We have received MFS license from the SBP,” company’s director corporate communications Omar Manzur confirmed without revealing details of the product. The bank will offer money transfers, payment of utility bills and other services, he added.
Orascom Telecom had bought the bank last year for Rs1 billion and had been waiting for SBP’s approval to launch the MFS. The SBP had some reservations over the platform that Mobilink wanted to use for the MFS, which delayed the license. The issue was resolved now, sources said.
It is relevant to mention that only 22% of the country’s population owns bank accounts; by contrast, more than 60% Pakistanis have access to mobile phones – the unbanked or under-banked segments of Pakistan, therefore, offer huge opportunity to expand mobile and branchless banking, according to experts. The branchless banking transactions have already hit Rs85 billion-mark from January to March 2012.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 7th, 2012.