ISLAMABAD: The International Finance Corporation (IFC) – a member of the World Bank group – has signed an agreement with NRSP Microfinance Bank to help develop digital financial services (DFS) to improve access to finance for the rural communities and underserved areas.
NRSP’s microfinance operations focus on rural and agricultural markets and the agreement will help the bank develop a DFS model to improve its outreach and expand market share, while offering comprehensive solutions for savings, deposits and other services.
“There is tremendous potential for DFS to drive microfinance growth in Pakistan,” said NRSP Microfinance Bank Chairman Rashid Bajwa, adding the bank’s strategic focus in coming years would be on harnessing the power of innovation and new technologies to offer complete client solutions.
The IFC advisory project is part of the World Bank group strategy to scale up financial inclusion and achieve universal financial access by 2020.
Pakistan ranks fifth among financially excluded populations globally, with approximately 101 million people without access to financial services, including a significant number of small and medium enterprises.
“This project will help demonstrate tremendous benefits of using innovative banking methods to bring more people into the banking fold and unlock the potential of DFS to improve access to finance,” said IFC Microfinance Advisory Services Head Mohammad Khaled.
“That will lead to the creation of more jobs and higher tax payments, while better, integrated financial systems will help increase growth and reduce inequality,” he added.
Pakistan is a priority country for the IFC. During the last three years, the IFC has ramped up investments and advisory services in the country, helping to support development of the private sector.
The organisation has focused on mobilising investments in power and infrastructure, and providing access to finance for micro, small and medium enterprises through financial intermediaries.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 19th, 2015.