LAHORE: The Information Technology University (ITU) and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), represented by Karandaaz Pakistan, signed an agreement for three research projects on financial inclusion. In this regard, an agreement signing ceremony was held in Lahore on Wednesday.
While speaking on the occasion, ITU Vice-Chancellor Dr Umar Saif said Pakistan’s first FinTech Centre, established at ITU, will ensure financial inclusion and make a large portion of the population a part of the economy through technology. The project will be in collaboration with BMGF.
“Pakistan is a growing economy and the gender-based financial inclusion will become part of the documented economy.”
He maintained that joining hands with international development partners like BMGF for innovation and research in financial technology was a welcome step. “We welcome partnerships with local and international entities for financial inclusion through innovative applications of technology to help Pakistan reform digital financial services, especially with the inclusion of women,” he pointed out.
Similarly, Karandaaz CEO Ali Sarfraz Hussain said, “Together with BMGF and UK’s Department of Development, we are working with various departments for financial inclusion, including National Savings, State Bank of Pakistan and Agriculture Department of Punjab with a special grant from FinTech Centre.”
BMGF Deputy Director Financial Services Jason Lamb said that the Gates Foundation focused on Pakistan among the five largest countries, including Indonesia and Algeria, India etc. “Digital technology is playing a key role in fundamental changes in services with credit availability,” he added.
Jason said that more knowledge and research would trigger greater financial inclusion of women through technology in Pakistan. “It is heartening to see academicians stepping up to work closely with the industry in solving issues. Karandaaz and ITU have partnered to make this possible,” he said.
He said that ITU’s FinTech would devise many innovations and some research projects, while three specific academic researches would improve existing knowledge on women’s use of digital financial services and the barriers they face.
He maintained the researches will help in understanding and proposing solutions to mitigate these barriers. “One of the researches will focus on viability of a mobile app to form a rotating savings and credit association of women that will help them save and borrow collectively,” Lamb said.
He said another research will help in designing a digital financial system for business and personal use of micro entrepreneur women, while the third research will focus on digital solutions to safeguard women against SMS fraud in Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 1st, 2018.