KARACHI: Pakistan will have as many as 100 million bank accounts by 2025, said Tameer Microfinance Bank CEO Nadeem Hussain, while addressing a summit of business leaders on Thursday.
He said effective banking regulations and better coordination among different stakeholders had made Pakistan one of the few countries where a bank account could be opened in just one minute.
“Thanks to the concept of the one-minute bank account, the industry is opening close to a million accounts a month,” he said.
There were a total of 41.7 million bank accounts in Pakistan at the end of last fiscal year, according to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP). More than 31.3 million accounts, or 75% of all bank accounts, belonged to the personal accounts category.
The SBP has recently modified the regulatory framework to quicken the bank account-opening process with the help of the national database authority.
“NADRA is the real-time online depository of the biometric impressions of close to 100 million people,” Hussain said, adding that utilising its database had so far resulted in eight million one-minute accounts.
The industry expects 50 million accounts by 2020 and 100 million accounts by 2025. Assuming the average balance of Rs1,000 in these accounts, Hussain said these accounts will bring as much as Rs100 billion back into the banking system.
It will also make access to credit possible for people and small businesses that are currently unable to borrow from commercial banks, he noted. “A bank account is the centre of gravity for financial inclusion,” he said.
Speaking on the occasion, Lucky Cement CEO Muhammad Ali Tabba said his group had plans to invest $1.8 billion in the next four years. “The economy and the security situation are on an improving trajectory. The feel-good factor is prevailing,” he said.
Urging people to “believe in Pakistan,” Tabba said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will be a game-changer for the economy. “I think $46 billion investment will materialise and transform Pakistan into a major economic hub.”
Addressing the audience, Planning and Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal said Pakistan has undergone a huge change since 2013. “The world now considers Pakistan an important player in the region, as Chinese investments would integrate Pakistan with Central Asian countries.”
The CPEC will bring development and prosperity in the country with investment of up to $5 billion in infrastructure and networks of roads and bridges, he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 27th, 2015.