KARACHI: Strong collaboration is crucial among mobile operators, financial and payments companies and governmental agencies for Pakistan to harness the full potential of e-commerce, a report by Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA), a global mobile operators representative body, has said.
“By 2020, 3G coverage is expected to reach 90%, while mobile broadband to 40% of the population,” the report said.
It highlighted connectivity was less of an issue in Pakistan now, with the challenge being an increase in the number of digital commerce accounts, and promotion of digital payments.
The report added that Pakistan had room for growth in terms of digital access and e-payments, since it has a “unique mobile subscriber penetration of 31%, mobile broadband penetration of 5%, and bank/mobile money account penetration among adults of 13%”.
Pakistan’s digital economy, however, still faces challenges, the report said. These include low digital literacy, weak regulatory and legal frameworks, and a lack of awareness regarding what digital commerce is and how to access it.
Yet, the outlook is overwhelmingly positive. Pakistan’s e-commerce market has the potential to grow from its current size of $30 million to “several hundred million dollars in the next five years”, the report pointed out.
Currently, 70% of e-commerce activity in Pakistan occurs in urban areas – 21% in Lahore, 20% in Karachi, and 15% in Islamabad and Rawalpindi.
The report also noted the single biggest opportunity for the growth and sustainability of the digital ecosystem in Pakistan was in digitising government payments, e.g. salaries and pensions.