ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar on Tuesday highlighting Pakistan’s achievement made through the Asaan Mobile Account (AMA) Scheme to enhance women’s financial inclusion, said the country was ready to replicate its success story with the developing countries.
“Many developing countries are in touch with us directly through world organizations like the Islamic Development Bank, ADB, the AIIB, UNDP, etc. We stand ready to replicate this unique Pakistani success story with their support for the underprivileged and for the deprived women anywhere in the world,” he said addressing a virtual event on “Bridging the Financial Inclusion Gap in Pakistan.”
The event was organized by the World Economic Forum’s Edison Alliance and the Virtual Remittance Gateway.
The prime minister said that his prime objective as the head of the government was to give hope to the poor through this many-to-many platform.
He thanked World Economic Forum’s Edison Alliance and its head Claude Dyer for recognizing Pakistan’s amazing success story of the Asaan Mobile Account (AMA) Scheme on the World Bank’s Financial Inclusion and Women Empowerment Project.
He said under the National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS), the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), collaborated with various branchless banking providers, banks, and telecom operators to introduce Third Party Provider Services in Pakistan to facilitate the unbanked & underbanked population.
“The slogan is banking the unbanked. Before the launch of the AMA Scheme, 80% of the population was unbanked, whereas, after the soft launch in Dec 2021, the ratio has improved by 10%. Unfortunately, of the 30% who have bank accounts, only 18% (less than 5% of the total banking population) are women. With the launch of the AMA accounts 38% are women,” he told the participants.
He said any Pakistani holding a valid National ID Card could open a bank account digitally anywhere without any hassle in less than two minutes in a swift, easy, and affordable manner in any AMA participating bank from a smart or a feature phone using a short code of *2262#.
“The account holders can then make transactions without the need for internet connectivity. Already more than 8.5 million Pakistanis without internet facilities have bank accounts and this number is growing by 4000-5000 a day,” he added.
“I believe Pakistan is leading in the opening of bank accounts in Edison Alliance’s 1 Billion Lives Challenge by 2030. The platform’s task is two-fold. The first is to open bank accounts without hassle and the second for the “many-to-many” model to help government and commercial organizations in social welfare and relief programs, digital lending both Micro and Nano loans, as well as digital insurance to the masses.”
Highlighting other innovative services being provided by Pakistan’s banking sector, he said the home remittances being processed in a transparent and swift manner with the transaction of funds through legal financial channels was of particular importance.
The AMA Platform is conducting a pilot project with a number of banks where the recipient gets the fund directly from the donor abroad which can then be encashed directly at any one of the participating banks on the State Bank’s PTA’s innovative “agent interoperability” method, he added.
Calling the AMA Scheme a “shining example” of public-private partnership, he congratulated VRG, a member of the Pathfinder Group, and a long-term member of the World Economic Forum (WEF), for this remarkable achievement.
Finance Minister Dr Shamshad Akhtar, Saleem Ullah Khan, Deputy Governor of State Bank of Pakistan, and Maj Gen Hafeez ur Rehman Khan, Chairman of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority also addressed the event.
Dr Amjad Saqib Head of the Benazir Income Support Programme, one of the most successful social welfare schemes in the world also explained how BISP and AMA were going to work together to force-multiply the financial access to the deprived.
Chairman Pathfinder Group and VRG Zarrar Sehgal and Chief Executive Officer of Virtual Remittance Gateway Muhammad Salman Ali were also among the prominent speakers.