KARACHI: Pakistanis are likely to spend “several hundred million dollars” on online shopping by 2020 as a greater part of the country adopts digital technology and sees the launch of more ecommerce portals.
Pegged by greater smartphone penetration and digital payments solutions, the country’s ecommerce industry is expected to grow to “several hundred million dollars by 2020 from the current figure of $30 million”, said the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) in its Annual Report 2016.
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The ‘Black Friday’ sale by ecommerce portal daraz.pk on November 27, 2015 became an instant hit as more than 1.5 million people visited the website to avail discounts of up to Rs132 million, it said.
Despite the trend of online shopping growing tremendously, it is still considered to be in its infancy.
“The economic impact of information and communication technologies (ICTs) can ... be observed with the tremendous rise of ecommerce through websites such as daraz.pk, olx.com, zameen.com and pakwheels.com, which is still at the embryonic stage. The potential for ecommerce growth is astronomical,” it said.
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A H Siddiqui, sales manager at an online shopping portal, told The Express Tribune that the company’s business had grown to the level at which it lacked capacity to compete. To deal with the situation, the company had to cut short the list of items on sale for the time being.
“We were getting up to 500 orders a day. However, the immediate non-availability of the required staff has caused delay in delivery or incorrect delivery to customers. Hence, we have had to cut short the list to limit ourselves from taking too many orders,” he said.
Foodpanda Chief Executive Officer Nauman Sikandar Mirza said the company is delivering food orders worth Rs1 billion a year via the food delivery app. “This was additional sales for the restaurant industry in Pakistan,” he said.
PTA added that business owners attributed the rapid expansion in ecommerce trends to the introduction of mobile broadband services in Pakistan
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“Banks are now reduced to a palm-sized phone as Telcos are providing banking services on mobile handsets through their mobile banking solutions,” said PTA.
People via branchless banking transacted over Rs486 billion during October to December 2015. This has become possible with the launch of mobile broadband services on 3G/4G LTE in 2014, according to the PTA.
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“Financial Institutions are the front runners being early technology adopters of modern ICTs opportunities for transition from traditional book keeping to computer-based solutions,” it said.
Online banking, ATMs, virtual banking and mobile payment systems are some of the key banking services making full use of information and communication technologies.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 12th, 2016.
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