KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has developed a mobile phone application to enable all users make financial transactions across the country, an official said on Monday, as the country moves towards formalising its economy.
SBP Executive Director Syed Samar Hasnain said the ‘Asaan Mobile Account (AMA)’ would provide ‘one platform’ to all bank accountholders on different mobile phone networks to conduct financial transactions with anyone in the country.
It would work like creating “universal interoperability”. The app would be launched in June 2017, said the director while speaking at the rebranding of Tameer Microfinance Bank as Telenor Microfinance Bank.
He said that owning a smartphone was not necessary to benefit from the application, as people with a simple feature phone could utilise the app as well.
“People could pay their utility bills, while firms could disburse salaries and pensions via that application. The application would also help people make payments to their dry cleaner, milk vendor, barber and etc,” said Hasnain.
“Transactions would definitely have financial limitation and caps,” he added.
He said that the central bank has developed concerned rules and regulations and “the application is at the implementation stage. The SBP soon would invite applications for award of the app … developed by a third party,” he said.
Who so ever wins the licence banks would remain responsible for financial transaction, he said.
AMA would allow phone users to open their accounts in two minutes. It would bear a cost of Rs10 to verify information about the account opener.
“The cost has been cut down to Rs10 from a high price [more than Rs20]. The NADRA [National Database and Registration Authority] chairman is also on board with making its database available to verify clients’ information,” he said.
The application would help develop the economic system in the country. “The theme of the app is to reduce transactions in hard cash and avoid chances of money theft,” he said.
This would help the central bank achieve its vision of providing access of banks to 50% adult population by 2020, said the SBP official, adding that the number of branchless bank accounts has increased 3.7 times in the last one-year.
Some nine banks are working in collaboration with mobile phone service providing companies in the country. “The central bank has received more applications for acquisition of licences to provide mobile banking services in Pakistan,” he said.
Telenor Microfinance Bank Chief Executive Officer Ali Riaz Chaudhry said that 100 million people (about half of the total population) are involved in economic activities in the country, while 80 million of them don’t have access to money and bank accounts.
“We have set a target of providing access to money and banks to some 50 million people in the next three-four years,” he said.
“20 million people transferred money worth Rs200 billion via Easypaisa in the last one year,” he said.
Telenor Group re-launched the bank after 100% acquisition. “Our new name represents a significant foreign direct investment in Pakistan’s banking sector,” a handout added.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 28th, 2017.