Smartphones For Digital & Financial Inclusion in Pakistan

Mobile broadband (3G/4G) subscriptions in Pakistan crossed 34 million in September 2016, according to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority.  This figure includes 3.5 million subscriptions of higher bandwidth 4G/LTE offered by China Mobile Pakistan (CMPak aka Zong) and Warid.

Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) is forecasting the number of smartphones in the country to reach 40 million by the end of the year 2016, according to Daily Times.

Lenovo Smartphone Launch in Pakistan

More and more these smartphones are now becoming affordable and accessible to the urban poor and the rural populations of the country. This is helping close the digital divide.

Beginning in October 2016,  Pakistani government will give away five million smartphones to farmers in the country in an effort to improve knowledge of modern farming techniques, according to the BBC. Large numbers of farmers in countries such as India and Kenya have also recently experimented with smartphone technology.

In addition, the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) has announced plans to give away 30,000 smartphones with 3G subscriptions funded by Universal Service Fund (USF) to low income Pakistanis on BISP.  Each smartphone will have Rs. 250 balance per month. It is intended to enhance digital and financial inclusion, according to a report in Pakistan Observer.

The objective of giving away smartphones is to help increase farmers' productivity.  Digital access is is expected to reduce poverty in rural and semi-urban areas of Pakistan by supporting micro and small enterprises. Market access to the products of marginalized segments will improve their welfare and at the same time boost the national economy.

Lack of financial inclusion and the growing digital divide are known impediments to progress of the low-income and poor segments of the population. Any effort by the government to remove such impediments will help Pakistan's economy by making more people more productive.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Smartphones in Pakistan

Pakistan 2.0

Fiber Connectivity Growth in Pakistan

Financial Inclusion in Pakistan

Pakistan Agriculture Value Added


Riaz Haq said…
From #chaiwalla (tea vendor) to #fashion wala (model) for #Pakistan’s blue-eyed boy #Islamabad … via @TheNationalUAE

Arshad Khan has no phone and knew nothing of social media until recently, when photos of the handsome young Pakistani went viral and transformed him from tea seller to fashion model in a matter of days.

Arshad, an 18-year-old with piercing aquamarine eyes, got the first inkling of his rising fame when boys and girls suddenly started thronging his tea stall to take selfies with him. At first he thought he’d done something wrong. He quit his job and went into hiding until friends and relatives told him that it was his picture that had made him popular

Now, sitting among friends at the tea stall in the Islamabad flea market where he worked until only days ago, Arshad says he never dreamed he would become famous.

His change in fortunes began when a freelance photographer, Javeria Ali, took his photo as he poured tea for a customer and shared it on Instagram, with a caption "Hot Tea".

Overnight, Arshad became an internet sensation in Pakistan and beyond, with his picture shared thousands of times on social media with the hashtag ChaiWala — or tea seller.

The Islamabad-based clothing retail site then contacted him for his first modelling shoot and he now graces the site’s home page, modelling T-shirts.

"Chai wala is no more chai wala, now he is fashion wala," says a message accompanying his photos.

Arshad, one of 17 siblings from Pakistan’s conservative town of Mardan in the north-west, had worked at the tea stall for months, serving customers from morning to sunset for US$5 (Dh18.36) a day. He now hopes to work in TV and films.

"I need money to help my family. I also want to do charity work across Pakistan," he says.

Arshad does not know how to read and write, but he has a dream: he wants to educate others.

"I am not an educated person and cannot claim that I will become a doctor or a judge," he says.

"All I want to say is that I will help those children who are deprived of education. If I get enough money, I will set up schools for children."

Growing up, he had wanted to get an education, "but poverty did not allow me".

Before working at the tea stall, Arshad sold fruit, vegetables and used clothes at the flea market for years.

Recalling the moment Ms Ali took his photo, he says he was serving tea when a woman passing by suddenly stopped, took a snap and went away. He forgot the incident and only realised the picture had made him famous when people told him his blue-green eyes were a top trending topic on social media.

"I know I am handsome, but I also knew a poor person like me cannot become famous," he says.

"My mother often used to tell me that one day you will become a famous man. I always thought it was a wish and nothing else. But now I feel it is due to my mother’s prayers that I have become a model from a tea seller."

Riaz Haq said…
#America keen to help #Pakistan develop #digital economy …

The United States is keen to help Pakistan in developing the country’s information technology infrastructure in the underserved areas, its envoy said.

United States Trade Representative (USTR) Ambassador Michael Froman, during a meeting with the minister for finance Ishaq Dar on Wednesday, said the US looks forward to further collaborate with Pakistan in developing digital economy, which could provide opportunities to far flung areas in the country.

“Pakistan’s information technology infrastructure is growing at a commendable pace and providing opportunities for growth to small and medium enterprises through electronic commerce,” Froman said.

He thanked the finance minister for Pakistan’s active engagement in the trade and services agreement of the World Trade Organization. “Pakistan is leading in this area in the region,” he said. Minister Dar apprised the USTR ambassador of the reforms undertaken by the government for stabilisation and growth of the economy.

“Pakistan has undergone considerable tax reforms, which resulted in record tax revenue collection in the last three years,” he said. “Pakistan has also made significant progress in meeting energy shortfall and overcoming security situation of the country.”

Froman congratulated Dar on successful completion of the International Monetary Fund’s programme. He appreciated the measures taken by the government to turn around the economy. He acknowledged the improved investment climate and economic conditions in Pakistan and expressed full support to measures necessary for strengthening bilateral trade ties.


Meanwhile, Talal Abu Ghazaleh, a global IT leader, from Jordan, during a meeting with the finance minister on Wednesday, said fast expansion of IT services to far-flung areas of Pakistan and healthy market competition provides considerable opportunities for establishing new businesses in the country.

Ghazaleh congratulated the finance minister on the country’s economic turnaround in the last three years. “There are tremendous investment and business opportunities in Pakistan,” he said. The minister said the government’s priority is to further improve the ease of doing business indicator. “Pakistan is receiving international recognition for creating the right atmosphere for international businesses to invest in the country,” he said.

Riaz Haq said…
Mobilink’s #mobile-based #agriculture service launched to for Farmers across #Pakistan. #3G via @techjuicepk

Mobilink is targeting the agriculture sector of Pakistan with the launch of its new value added service (VAS), ‘Ba Khabbar Kisaan’. The App based service utilizing interactive voice response technology will provide farmers information and services related to agriculture such as optimized cultivation methods, modern farming techniques, health education for farmers, health precautions for plants, 24/7 helpline with trainings, weather information, crop insurance, market-related information and a platform for sales.

The launch of ‘Ba Khabbar Kisan’ was held in Dera Sardar Sarfraz Khan, Attock, where more than a 1000 local farmers were present to witness Dr. Syed Ismail Shah, Chairman – Pakistan Telecommunications Authority and Aamir Ibrahim, CEO – Mobilink and Warid Pakistan provide a breakdown of the service’s benefits to the farming community.

With the launch of this service, Mobilink is looking to harness the strength of its extensive telecommunications network to connect farmers, agribusinesses and rural communities, in a bid to drive productivity, profitability and innovation.

“With the launch of our ‘Ba Khabbar Kisaan’ service, Mobilink is showcasing that mobile operators can offer much more than just basic communication facilities,” said Aamir Ibrahim. “This service is in line with the direction we took by re-introducing Jazz, as we now want to offer our subscribers freedom of choice, digital empowerment and the power to do more with less; ultimately becoming the first Telco to reach out and reshape all echelons of society.”

“We believe this service will play an integral role in ensuring farmers get their due reward for playing an important role in the society by transforming their ability to increase crop yields, improve efficiency and grow incomes,” he further added.

Dr. Syed Ismail Shah said, “The government is continuously making all necessary arrangements to ensure farmers are provided support against problems climate change and urbanization bring. Also, we still believe a lot more can be done if the telecom sector plays its due role. In relation to this, we have held various seminars on successful telecom – agricultural models from around the world to stress on the fact that more mobile-based applications are needed for better usage of telecom in agriculture.”

“Thus, it gives me immense pleasure that Mobilink decided to launch a mAgri service in line with international standards with the core objective of increasing agricultural productivity and income. And PTA will continue encouraging the development of local content based applications and is willing to extend all sort of support to help farmers through the provision of reliable and timely information, automation of certain agriculture processes using specialized applications, and connecting the buyers and sellers in the market place,” he further added.

The free of cost service has been developed after understanding the needs of local farmers. It focuses on three pain points of the agricultural sector – productivity losses, supply chain inefficiencies, and financial exclusion – by offering relevant & timely information, supply chain related services, and mobile financial services.

Riaz Haq said…
Cash Transfers Help Pakistan’s Poorest by World Bank

Launched in 2008, Pakistan’s flagship national safety net program, the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP), is currently providing income support though predictable $15 monthly cash transfers to more than 5.2 million families of the country's nearly 20 million poorest people.

Over $3.5 billion has so far been disbursed to beneficiaries and the program aims to reach 5.3 million families by the end of the current financial year.

To further support these families and promote human capital development amongst the poorest, effective 2012, BISP has rolled out a top up Co-responsibility Cash Transfer (CCT) program, linked with primary school education of beneficiaries’ children.

Since BISP delivers transfers to female members of the families, this has significantly contributed to women empowerment and promoting financial inclusion. With a variety of innovations and building blocks of Social Protection systems, BISP is evolving as a national platform for provision of targeted services to the poor.

World Bank
" It is miraculous. Over time with the benefits that we have received, our children have rejoined school. Payment of children’s school fee and other expenditures is easy for us "
Khalida, BISP beneficiary from Faisalabad

According to a recent revision of poverty numbers, around 29% of Pakistanis live below the poverty line and many others are vulnerable to shocks likely to push them below the poverty line.

Before the launch of BISP, Pakistan’s main safety net programs had limited coverage and targeting efficiency: up to one third of the resources distributed were going to non-poor families and the delivery systems were inadequate.

Since 2009, the World Bank’s Social Safety Net Project has supported BISP to develop modern service delivery systems that enabled the institution to efficiently and transparently reach a large proportion of the poorest and provide them the benefit transfers. Besides various administrative improvements, the Project has also supported BISP to strengthen its partnership with provinces for joint implementation of CCTs.

" I was living my life in extreme poverty. BISP became my savior. My children are able to receive the formal education. "
BISP beneficiary


The establishment of a National Socio-Economic Registry through the use of an objective targeting system, hosting a database of more than 27 million households (approx. 167 million people) – the first in South Asia. More than 30 federal and provincial organizations are already using this registry to improve pro-poor targeting performance of respective social sector programs. BISP is about to launch the update of household welfare information in the Registry to be completed by December 2017.
By providing women access to national identification cards and making payments to female heads of beneficiary families, the program has significantly contributed to women empowerment. The enrolment of women for the NID card has almost doubled post the launching of BISP.
Transparency and efficiency have improved since more than 93% of the current 5.2 million beneficiaries receive payments electronically, and even the poorest women can access branchless banking accounts for the first time ever in their lives.
The Co-responsibility Cash Transfers (CCT) in 32 districts is linking cash transfers to primary school education. More than 1.3 million children have been enrolled in the program, of which nearly 50% are girls.
Partnerships with the provinces helped promote the National Enrolment Drive, raise awareness of the program amongst the poor and pave the way for the design and delivery of complementary services.
Riaz Haq said…
#Mobile #Technology Enabling Silent #Financial Industry Revolution in #Pakistan. #financialinclusion

.... irrespective of what the old banking school is doing, a silent financial revolution is taking place in Pakistan. New players have entered the financial industry and are offering solutions tailored to the needs of the average man and woman. This technology-driven disruption will change the level of financial inclusion within five years. In all likelihood, the largest retail bank in terms of number of customers, touch points and transactions will be a branchless banking player as opposed to one of the big five commercial banks.

Financial inclusion starts with having a bank account. This is followed by payments, retail purchases, credit and then other services like insurance, pension and other value-added services

The technology-based impact has already started for a simple mobile bank account, which today can be opened within a minute. Three years from now the branchless banking industry would have opened 50 million mobile wallets, substantially more than what commercial banks hold. These M wallet holders are being provided an ATM card. Within six months these ATM cards will be converted into debit cards. The vision is to create 500,000 merchants in Tier 2 and 3 cities over five years for the acceptance of these debit cards.

Again the change in technology will be the accelerator. Instead of expensive point of sale (POS) machines, smart phones which cost less than Rs5,000 will act as POS. This will have a material effect on financial inclusion as 50m of the hitherto unbanked along with 0.5m merchants will enter the formal economy, improving the savings and tax-to-GDP ratio.

With over 50m M wallet holders, person-to-person transaction is expected to increase geometrically. Two developments will drive this change, bypassing the traditional payment railroad.

First, we are already experiencing a slow but steady switch from over-the-counter domestic transfers to M wallet, with volumes increasing from 15,000 to 1m a month in the case of one player alone. Throw in a social payment application which allows low-value payments to be made via WhatsApp, line or a local application, and payments become as easy as sending a message.

Currently, the industry is experimenting with new algorithm-based lending programmes that can assess credit risk based on data generated by the behaviour of an M wallet holder using a scorecard. Once the industry follows suit, the bulk of savers holding an M wallet could become eligible for a credit facility based on their score. This will have an exponential impact on financial inclusion. Even if 20pc of the target users become eligible it will be a multiple of the current credit users in the formal system. Score cards already exist for merchants. When the merchant score card is developed and implemented for the proposed 500,000 new merchants, the lending for microenterprise as well as SMEs will increase.

The last development, which will be driven again by technology and the digital payments railroads, will be financial inclusion through e-commerce. At present, it is estimated that there are around 100,000 e-merchants with less than $100m business transacted.

Financial exclusion is expected to reduce materially in the next three years. This silent financial revolution has already started rolling out with the advent of the one-minute account. This account will in turn drive payments, retail purchases, credit and e-commerce activity. The days of Pakistan being at the lowest rung of financial inclusion for developing countries will no longer be the case. The sky will quite literally be the limit.
Riaz Haq said…
#India tops with 76 selfie deaths, followed by 9 in #Pakistan and 8 in #US in 6 months …

The analysis — provocatively titled “Me, Myself and My Killfie: Characterizing and Preventing Selfie Deaths" — found that of 127 reported selfie deaths from March 2014 to September,"a whopping 76 deaths occurred in India alone!”

In a blog detailing the study, it said Pakistan had nine deaths, the United States eight and Russia six over the past two years.

In 2015 alone, Indians taking selfies died while posing in front of an oncoming train, in a boat that tipped over at a picnic, on a cliff that gave way and crumbled into a 60-foot ravine and on the slippery edge of a scenic river canal. Also, a Japanese tourist trying to take a selfie fell down steps at the Taj Mahal, suffering fatal head injuries.

Researchers analyzed thousands of selfies posted on Twitter and found that men were far more likely than women to take dangerous selfies. It found 13 percent were taken in what could be dangerous circumstances, and the majority of victims were under the age of 24.

The most common cause of death worldwide was “falling off a building or mountain,” which was responsible for 29 deaths. The second most second-most common being hit by a train, responsible for 11 deaths.

“This trend caters to the belief that posting on or next to train tracks with their best friend is regarded as romantic and a sign of never- ending friendship,” the study noted.

Most of the Indian deaths were water-related.

The authors hope the study will serve as a warning of the hazards and inspire new mobile phone technology that can warn photo-takers if they are in a danger zone.

Officials in India in recent months have tried to take steps to address this new public safety phenomenon. The country's tourism minister has asked state governments to develop “no-selfie zones” at tourist attractions around the country — including more than a dozen in Mumbai tourist areas after two people drowned while being swept out into the Arabian Sea while posing for selfies.

Last year, no-selfie zones were also established in certain areas of the massive Hindu religious gathering called the Kumbh Mela because organizers feared bottlenecks caused by selfie-takers could spark stampedes.
Riaz Haq said…
Early drought warning helps #Pakistan's farmers prepare for dry winter. They grow potatoes, not wheat via @Reuters

RAWAT, Pakistan (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Like his farming neighbors, Bilal Khan plants wheat in late October or early November each year, and harvests and sells his winter crop a few months later.

But this year, there are no wheat stalks are to be seen on his 3 hectares (5 acres) of land in Rawat, a town some 12 miles (20 km) from Islamabad, Pakistan's capital.

Instead, Khan is growing onions, potatoes, cauliflower, cabbage and carrots.

In late October, the Pakistan Meteorological Department informed Khan and other farmers that no rain was forecast for the crucial wheat-growing months of November and December in parts of northern Pakistan that rely solely on rain-fed agriculture.

The warning was one of the first of its kind from Pakistan's weather service, aimed at helping farmers look ahead months, rather than just days, and plan for crops more likely to survive drought.

"As advised by the weatherman on the radio, I exercised caution and opted for vegetable cultivation, it being less water-intensive," Khan said. He is irrigating his crops with water drawn from a nearby pond.


Winter rains are usually reliable in this region – but already those who did not heed the weather forecast are regretting their decision, as they watch the wheat they planted fail.

Muhammad Khan spent $2,000 on wheat seed which he finished sowing on Nov. 7 on his family's 4-acre farm in Ghool, a village about 90 km southeast of Islamabad.

His nights have been sleepless since he noticed the seeds growing abnormally slowly.

The wheat plants were only 3 inches tall by Nov. 21, rather than the 12 inches he would have expected.

"Even if rains come in January and February, the wheat output would be less than 50 percent" of normal, because the grain heads will be underdeveloped, Khan predicted.

Slow growth makes the crop vulnerable in other ways too. Karaim Nawab, a wheat farmer in Gujar Khan, said if wheat doesn't grow strongly enough to properly grip the soil, the plants are at risk of being flattened if there are heavy winds later in the season.

Wheat is grown on around 9 million hectares (22 million acres) of land in Pakistan, 30 percent of which is rain-fed. Around 25 million tonnes of the crop are produced annually across the country. The Potohar plateau in the northeast, where Islamabad and its surrounding area are located, produces 3 million tonnes.


Farmers usually finish sowing wheat by mid-November and, under normal circumstances, two rainy spells in November and December drench the fields, allowing the seeds to germinate. The harvest begins in April.

This year, things are different. Ghulam Rasul, director-general of the Meteorological Department, said the winter drought appears to be the result of an unusual high pressure zone over Central Asia that has driven rain clouds over northern Pakistan and beyond without letting rain fall.

Rasul says the drought is a consequence of the El Niño phenomenon, but that the effects are much harsher now than the last time the weather phenomenon affected Pakistan, in 2009. The most recent El Niño has also caused severe droughts in Africa and devastating floods in Asia-Pacific countries.

The winter drought comes on the heels of a monsoon that receded in early September, almost three weeks earlier than expected.


Apart from holding back the onset of winter rains across Pakistan, El Niño is also causing large fluctuations between day and night-time temperatures, Rasul added – another headache for farmers.
Riaz Haq said…
The (World Bank) report ( The State of Social Safety Nets 2015) – which identifies India as a “lower middle income group” country – finds that all other BRICS countries, except China, spend a higher proportion of funds on social safety net. Thus, Brazil spends 2.42 per cent, Russia 3.30 per cent, China 0.70 per cent, South Africa 3.51 per cent, and South Africa 3.51 per cent of GDP.
Interestingly, even the two of India’s neighbours – Pakistan and Bangladesh – spend a higher proportion on social safety net, 1.89 per cent and 1.09 per cent.
The report says, “Despite having fewer resources for social safety nets, some lower-income countries allocate considerably more funds than the 1.6 percent average for developing countries”.
Riaz Haq said…
#China's #Smartphone Giant #Xiaomi is Officially Launching in #Pakistan on Feb 20 via @phoneworldpk

The launch event is going to happen in Islamabad. Smart Link has also announced that Xiaomi’s other eco products will also launch in Pakistan like bluetooth speakers, power banks etc . So, now customers can get all products of Xiaomi in Pakistan.

Earlier, PTA has restricted the sale/ purchase of Xiaomi smartphones in Pakistan. According to PTA Xiaomi is not obeying the country’s law and rules. Moreover, An IT expert, Rafay Baloch, also pointed out on Facebook that Xiaomi phones were allegedly stealing user data and sending it to Chinese servers.

Then soon Xiaomi officials announced in a Public Notice that PTA has withdrawn the ban from its product. In that Public Notice, Xiaomi said:

We would like to clarify that Xiaomi has not officially launched the sale of its smartphones in Pakistan. The ban proposed to be enforced by PTA is specifically targeting the unauthorized resellers who had been unofficially selling Xiaomi products in Pakistan, without complying with the necessary legal formalities.
Later on, PTA has confirmed that any company with official approval can sale smartphones in Pakistan and same is the case with Xiaomi.

We all know that, Xiaomi is famous for launching high-end smartphones at low rate. Not only Xiaomi, many other Chinese smartphone manufacturer has launched smartphones at low rate. This is a big reason why people are hyped up about Xiaomi’s official entry in Pakistan.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan saw 13 million smartphone shipments in 2016, according to IDC, as the overall mobile market gradually tilts towards smartphones. The ratio of flip phone to smartphone shipments is now at 60:40.

Chinese gadget manufacturer Xiaomi announced today it’s launching in Pakistan – the world’s sixth-most populous country – after months of speculation and official denials.

Xiaomi has expanded slowly since its 2011 debut in China, focusing mainly on Southeast Asia, India, parts of the Middle East, and Brazil. Its Pakistan entry is the largest since it ventured into Brazil mid-2015.

Xiaomi’s coming to Pakistan through a distribution partnership – as it did in Brazil – with Rocket Internet’s ecommerce marketplace, Daraz, which is present in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka.

Jack Yung, Xiaomi’s sales director for South Asia, said three models will be available initially – the Mi Max, plus the budget Redmi Note 4 and Redmi 4A. There are also plans to sell the Mi Band 2, but the company is tight-lipped whether the full range of Xiaomi’s products will eventually reach the country.


As the world's sixth most populous nation Pakistan is a big market for smartphone makers. The country was projected to have about 40 million smartphones last year. Qmobile is the current smartphone vendor in the country.

India is Xiaomi's biggest market outside China, company CEO Lei Jun said earlier this year. In 2016, Xiaomi had hit one billion dollar in revenue in the country. Even as if the company does well in India, it is losing its charm in the home country. Once the hottest phone brand in its home market, Xiaomi had slipped to fifth spot in the fourth quarter last year, according to IDC.

Riaz Haq said…
Fast track growth of digital ecosystem, financial inclusion

Amanullah Khan


For the overall digital ecosystem development in Pakistan, a consultative and collaborative approach is required among different industries ranging from Health, Education, Agriculture and Media on different levels including respective regulators, government bodies, private sector and public at large to drive similar socio-economic benefits that emerged through the convergence of ICT and banking sector.
In line with the government’s vision for digital financial inclusion in the country, PTA is serving more as a facilitator helping mobile operators transform themselves into digital service providers and creating awareness among the masses to fully capitalize this opportunity for the betterment for all.
These views were expressed by Dr. Syed Ismail Shah, Chairman, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority during his keynote as the Guest of Honor in Digital Banking and Mobile Payments Summit 2017 held in Karachi.
Shah presented the growth witnessed in telecommunication sector over the years with special focus on mobile broadband. He also shared the regional comparison of data usage over the internet and the surge observed in Pakistan following the launch of 3G and 4G technology.
Shah pointed out that close to 90% of the country’s population is covered in terms of mobile telephony and few projects have already been launched to take it further.
Addressing the summit, Syed Irfan Ali, Executive Director, Banking Policy and Regulations Group, State Bank of Pakistan said, “Achievement of Financial Inclusion is the first and foremost objective of the Government of Pakistan and the central bank. SBP’s National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) has been set out to enhance the outreach of basic financial services to unbanked/undeserved segments and aims to target 50% growth in bank accounts by adult population by 2020. Branchless Banking is the strongest driver for achievement of financial inclusion objective and with 11 branchless banking operators, 20 million mobile wallets and agent network of 350,000 over 1.3 million transactions are carried out every day.”
Ali also said that aimed at taking customer services in financial services industry to the next level, the State Bank of Pakistan is working to introduce a separate category of Digital Bank which incorporates new and developing technologies throughout a financial services entity.
The conference was organized by Pakistan’s premiere conference producers TerraBiz in collaboration with PwC as the Premium Knowledge Partners and featured some of the most insightful speakers from across Pakistan, Europe and the US. The summit was attended by over 400 delegates.
Chris Skinner, Fintech Titan by Wall Street Journal delivered the international keynote on the ‘internet value and the next 10 years in banking’.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan to launch state-of-the-art E-payment gateway. #PayPal #AliPay #ecommerce

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar announced on Friday that Pakistan would open international electronic payment gateways ahead of the likely arrival of PayPal and Alipay in the country.

While presenting the budget for 2017-18 in the National Assembly, the finance minister said the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) was developing a state-of-the-art e-gateway at a cost of Rs200 million.

“The system will facilitate transactions through mobile banking,” he said. “The Rs200-million investment is being undertaken by the SBP.”

Even though PayPal is a world-renowned international e-payment system, Alipay is not as common across the globe. However, recently, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif developed an understanding with Alibaba Group Founder and Executive Chairman Jack Ma, who also owns Alipay, to open its office in Pakistan. Alipay will enable Chinese and Pakistani traders to make easy e-payments between the two countries.

Meanwhile, information and communications technology expert Parvez Iftikhar said the establishment of the e-gateway system at the highest regulatory level – the SBP – was an effort towards replacing the existing manual trade payment system by opening Letters of Credit.

Digital Pakistan

The finance minister said the telecommunication sector was one of the important pillars of the country’s economic development. Hence, in order to further incentivise the sector, customs duties at the rates of 11% and 16% were being withdrawn and a uniform rate of 9% regulatory duty was being levied on telecom equipment in the coming fiscal year.

Additionally, Dar said start-up software houses would be exempted from income tax for the first three years. Similarly, exports of information technology (IT) services from Islamabad and other federal territories will be exempted from sales tax.

Mobile phone industry – another important element in the IT sector – received a further relief as withholding income tax on mobile calls was reduced from 14% to 12.5% and federal excise duty was reduced from 18.5% to 17%.

“We hope that provincial governments will also reduce the rate of sales tax on mobile industry,” he said. “In order to encourage the use of smartphones, the customs duty will be reduced from Rs1,000 to Rs650.”

Iftikhar commended the incentives and tax relief for the IT sector, which were meant to enable industrial players to invest more in the sector. “Digitalising Pakistan is the way forward. This is how we will cope with the developed countries,” he said.

Nevertheless, he added more could have been done to achieve a faster growth in the sector. “Reduction of withholding tax on phone calls and duty on smartphones is an encouraging development. However, calls and phones should have been made tax-free in the larger interest of digitalising the economy.”

Branchless banking

Dar announced exemption from withholding tax on cash withdrawals by branchless banking agents.

The move has been undertaken to realise the government’s dream of providing 50% adult population of Pakistan access to banks under its Financial Inclusion Strategy 2020. At present, 25% adult population has access to formal banking channels.

E-commerce and IT need to watch out for the budget

Iftikhar said the exemption from withholding tax on cash withdrawals under branchless banking would enable the government to document the economy, which would be one of the great efforts towards minimising the size of undocumented economy.

“Progress in almost every sector of the economy – like banking, agriculture, education, health and governance – is now linked with adoption of telecommunication,” he said.

Meanwhile, Jazz Director Communications Anjum Rahman said the government was supporting the agenda of ‘Digital Pakistan’, which was in line with the company’s vision and aspirations.

Riaz Haq said…
Karandaaz #Pakistan signs grant agreements with 4 ‘#FinTech Disrupt Challenge’ winners - … via @pakwired

One of Pakistan’s top financial technology & inclusion players, Karandaaz Pakistan, has signed grant agreements with four winners of the ‘FinTech Disrupt Challenge’ 2017. Aimed at hunting for extraordinary startup ideas worthy of creating substantial social impact, the second chapter of FDC solicited innovative responses to bottlenecks in Pakistan’s financial services sector.

Held at a local hotel in Islamabad, the event saw Karandaaz Pakistan CEO Mr. Ali Sarfraz signing grant agreements with the FDC 2017 winners. CreditFix, the FDC ’17 winner founded by Owais Zaidi, was awarded a grant of USD $100,000. Three runners-up namely Agri-Gate by Saad Tamman, UniKrew Solution by Naveed Tejani, Syed Taha Ali, and Muhammad Naveed Shareef, and Invoice Wakalah by Muhammad Waseem Sheikh, received USD $20,000 each in funding.

Through FDC 2017, Karandaaz had invited startups in five thematic areas including access to financial services, payments, e-commerce, interoperability, and early stage ideas related to mWallet use cases, education of financial services through technology, customer engagement/experience, microcredit, and digital savings. Banks, government regulators, incubators, and complementary actors from the FinTech industry had assembled together at the event to hear the 23 shortlisted startups present their ideas in front of a panel of experts.

“We are confident that the grants we have released today will help these promising startups go to market and change Pakistan’s financial services landscape for the better,” said Mr. Ali Sarfraz, CEO, Karandaaz Pakistan. “The FinTech Disrupt Challenge is a remarkable platform through which we give emerging and aspiring fin-tech players of Pakistan an opportunity to materialize their passion of promoting financial inclusion in the country. I wish CreditFix, Invoice Wakalah, UniKrew, and ‘Agrigate’ the very best of luck for the future.”

The FinTech Disrupt Challenge is an extension of Karandaaz Pakistan’s overall ambition of promoting financial inclusion to marginalized segments of the society. The company extends financial and technical support to financial technology startups which showcase substantial potential to create value for the society.
Riaz Haq said…
#Fintech Startups in #India & #Pakistan Find A Champion In Emerging Market Accelerator Called DFS Lab via @forbes

Owais Zaidi was sitting in traffic when a dilapidated-looking cab pulled up next to him. The cabbie asked to borrow 1,000 Pakistani rupees so he could get his tires changed, explaining that a market loan would cost him nearly 50 rupees a day in interest. Zaidi was moved by the man’s plight, and he gave the money as charity rather than a loan. But the encounter got him thinking about the millions of underbanked consumers in Pakistan who face predatory lending practices.

“The guy looked genuine so I gave him money, but it really bothered me how the poor are exploited,” Zaidi said. “Based on my experience consulting with banks, I know how straight-jacketed they are in their policies as well as thoughts.”

Zaidi decided to do more than help this one cabbie. In 2016, he founded CreditFix, a credit marketplace that draws on alternative data to assess creditworthiness among unbanked consumers. The company will launch a pilot program in Pakistan in August with 50,000 potential customers, Zaidi said. CreditFix’s platform will use borrowers’ work histories, mobile top-up records, and utility payments to generate credit scores that will then be visible to lenders who use the marketplace.

“The core goal of CreditFix is to facilitate the underserved and unserved segments of the population in getting access to fair credit, primarily for revenue generating assets,” Zaidi said.

CreditFix’s launch was aided in part by Digital Financial Services Innovation Lab (DFS Lab), a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-backed accelerator that supports fintech startups in the emerging markets of South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. DFS Lab provides companies with grant money and is developing an investment model as well. However, the ultimate goal is to connect startups with investors who can provide advice and funding as these early-stage businesses evolve. The organization offers regular mentorship, along with access to resources such as Amazon Web Services and marketing and mobile app support through the Global Accelerator Network (GAN). DFS Lab aims to provide the types of support that are vital to startups and are often lacking in developing markets.

“In Silicon Valley, it’s still hard, but there’s a whole really rich ecosystem that happens -- networking, mentorship, an ethos and community around being an entrepreneur,” said DFS Lab Director Jake Kendall. “Those elements are really missing in developing countries. It’s very hard to connect with people who are at the global frontier.”

Access to qualified, experienced investors can prove particularly important, because predatory investors are prominent in emerging markets, according to Kendall. In some instances, the investors don’t understand the startup space because they’re coming from vastly different industries. In others, they’re focused solely on making money off the companies rather than helping them grow sustainably. The team at DFS Lab tries to prevent such failures by getting quality companies in front of investors who can genuinely assist them.


With two billion adults still without bank accounts throughout the world, the need for innovative financial services is real. DFS Lab and the startups with which it works have a real opportunity to help meet that need by emphasizing the unique circumstances of underserved consumers in emerging markets.

Riaz Haq said…
Google puts Pakistan among 4 countries that will give next billion smartphone users

KARACHI: The ‘Next Billion Users’ of smartphones will emerge from four developing countries including Pakistan, according to a Google representative speaking at the launch ceremony of the company’s latest application.

The other three countries include Indonesia, India and Brazil, Google’s Asia Pacific Industry Head Khurram Jamali said on Thursday, as the company launched ‘Datally’, an Android-based app that helps smartphone users understand, control, and save mobile data.

“At least 40 million people are connected to the internet in Pakistan at the moment,” he said while talking to The Express Tribune. “Before the introduction of 3G/4G, the number was about five million.”
He said that the number of people watching videos on the internet is growing by 66% annually while social media users are increasing by 35% per year, adding that 80% of the users surf the internet through mobile phones.

“Now mobile is internet and internet is mobile,” he stated.

The released app, ‘Datally’, works on all smartphones running Android 5.0 (Lollipop) and higher, and is available on the Google Play Store globally.

Google found during extensive user research around the world that many smartphone users worry about running out of data. This is an especially acute problem for the new generation of smartphone-users from developing countries intending to come online, Jamali said.

People testing the app saved up to 30% of mobile data, depending on the way they used Datally, a presser released after the event stated.

Apps frequently use data in the background for updating content and information. Datally’s ‘Data Saver’ feature lets users control data on an app-by-app basis, so that data only goes to apps they care about.

Data Saver bubble

“Once Data Saver is turned on, Datally’s Data Saver bubble will appear when a user goes into an app that is allowed to use data. Whenever that app uses data, the Data Saver bubble will show the current rate of data usage, and users can easily choose to block that app’s data use if things start to get out of control. The Data Saver bubble is like a speedometer for mobile data.

Five companies plan to set up cellphone assembly lines

“Datally alerts users when apps start consuming a lot of data, and it allows them to see how much data they have used on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.

“Datally’s Wi-Fi feature helps find networks nearby, rated by the Datally community. Once connected, users can rate the Wi-Fi networks themselves based on their own experience.

It was the first time in Pakistan’s history that Google launched an application at the same time as all the other countries which shows Pakistani market’s growing importance for Google, said Tania Aidrus, chief of staff of Next Billion User project.

“Google is working on digitalising Urdu to promote local content and bring the vast majority of non-English-speaking Pakistanis online,” she added.
Riaz Haq said…
India ranks 109 in mobile internet speeds, 76 for fixed broadband: Ookla Global Index

India ranks at a lowly 109 (vs Pakistan 89) when it comes to mobile internet speeds on a global scale, while it fares slightly better with a ranking of 76 in fixed broadband speeds
India ranks at a lowly 109 when it comes to mobile internet speeds on a global scale, while it fares slightly better with a ranking of 76 in fixed broadband speeds, according to Ookla’s November Speedtest Global Index. According to the company, the average mobile download speed in India was 7.65 Mbps (vs Pakistan 13.08 Mbps) at the beginning of 2017, and this has improved marginally to 8.80 Mbps for November.
However, India does not fare so well in comparison to its neighours for mobile internet speeds. If one goes by the list, India is ranked below Pakistan (13.08 Mbps rank 89)  , Sri Lanka, Nepal, and we actually saw our rankings drop down for the month. Ookla says that while mobile internet speeds in India saw a 15 per cent increase, it was the fixed broadband line which jumped drastically with close to 50 per cent increase and stood at 18.82 Mbps for November. In January, speeds for fixed broadband line stood at 12.12 Mbps.
Riaz Haq said…
Punjab distributes 110,000 android phones to farmers

The Chief Minister of Punjab Shahbaz Sharif will inaugurate a scheme to provide free Android smartphones to 110,000 farmers in the province on Monday (tomorrow).

The Punjab government will give 110,000 smart mobile phones to farmers with an objective to keep them updated about agriculture department recommendations about their crops.

The Chief Minister of Punjab Shahbaz Sharif will inaugurate a scheme in Multan.

According to the spokesman of Punjab government, the farmers would get information regarding ecosystem, latest production techniques, subsidies on agriculture inputs, market prices of different commodities, and the latest researches. The farmers will pay Rs500 to 1000 for acquiring one smart mobile phone.

The tenants will pay Rs500 while the owners of land would pay Rs1000. The government will also provide free-of-cost 1 GB internet service. Initially, the facility will be given to registered farmers only. According to official sources, the scheme will commence from March 12 and Chief Minister Punjab Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif will inaugurate the scheme.

Riaz Haq said…
Mutant Varieties Satisfy Market and add USD 6 Billion to Pakistan’s Economy

When Pakistani farmers harvested fields planted with a new mutant variety of cotton, not only did they have a higher yield, they also received a higher price at the market because of the improved fibre quality. Farmers who adopted mutant varieties of sesame released in 2016 saw yields double and income increase, and now these new varieties cover 50 percent of the area planted to sesame in the entire country. Those who planted a mutant variety of castor bean released in 2017, bred for early maturity and high oil content, have already planted it on 2 000 ha and are making an extra USD 618 per ha. These are just a few of dozens of advances made possible by Pakistan’s Nuclear Institute for Agriculture and Biology (NIAB) which, with the support of the Joint FAO/IAEA Division, has used mutation breeding to improve varieties of eight different crops – benefitting millions of Pakistani farmers and their families, and adding billions to the Pakistan economy.

Across the millennia, those entrusted with saving seeds for planting in future seasons have always made decisions related to the environment, choosing seeds from varieties that will give them the best chance of a good harvest. Even as science has advanced the field from simply saving seeds to cross breeding and now to mutation breeding, the crucial role of the plant breeder has remained largely unchanged – developing varieties that can thrive in whatever the local environment has to offer and be resilient enough to adapt to change. Since 1969, Pakistan’s Nuclear Institute for Agriculture and Biology (NIAB), an institute of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, has overseen the development of 43 mutant crop varieties, ranging from sesame seed to castor bean to mandarin to cotton – all bred in response to what Pakistan’s farmers and their consumers need.

The government of Pakistan recognizes the importance of breeding crop varieties specifically for the Pakistan situation – its terrain, its climate, the needs and capacities of its farmers and, of course, when it comes to food crops, the taste and texture that will appeal to consumers. This government support of the NIAB mutant breeding programme has paid back in terms of increased yields and higher quality products, which have not only contributed to farmers’ livelihoods, it has meant more food for the marketplace and improved food security. Two sesame varieties released in 2016 and 2017 have double the yield of traditional varieties and are more suitable for modern cultivation techniques. The mutant mandarin variety, NIAB Kinnow, released in 2017, has an increased yield of more than 30 percent and reduced seed count from around 50 to just 3-5 seeds per fruit, which makes it more valuable and popular for export.

NIAB has received support from the Joint Division for more than 30 years, including equipment and technology packages for mutation breeding, individual staff trainingthrough fellowships, and national and regional training courses. The mutation breeding process calls for irradiating and then planting crop seeds, and then screening them as they grow in the following generations to see which induced changes that emerge could be helpful for breeding in future generations – from aesthetics of colour and texture to physiological changes that account for traits such as heat or cold tolerance, resilience or length of the growing period.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan 1st country to use multi-spectral imagery for #crop mapping. #Technology to be used with a 10-meter resolution through UK #Satellite Sentinel 2 A to determine type, health of crops, moisture in soil and assess production volume. #agriculture

The use of satellites is advantageous as it can generate a systematic and repetitive coverage of a large area and provide information about the health of the vegetation.

Dr Saif further said that Pakistan would no longer depend on foreign assistance for crop mapping. In the past, the process required the use of android phones to report GPS location as Google gives three-meter resolution in black and while Satellite Sentinel 2 A, which passes over Pakistan space once in a week.

The new multi-spectral technology will provide a 13-colour imagery to help examine data of various crops including seed quality, growth, disease, area of cultivation, yield, impact on economy and to determine export potential of excess crop, he added.

Dr Saif said the digitalised data would also help in market facilitation and stability, cost price, direct issuance of interest free loans to small farmers by banks and subsidy without involving middlemen. It will also help the government to formulate the agriculture policy while insurance companies, agriculture departments and the industry overall could benefit from the data gathered in real time.
Riaz Haq said…
#India’s #Smartphone Revolution Is a Double-edged Sword.“To most Indians, the smartphone is their first camera, first TV, first video device, first Walkman, and first MP3 player. It may even be their first alarm clock and calculator,”#fakenews #violence

Even illiterate individuals — of whom there are nearly 300 million in India — can learn to use the device. With the Google Assistant, they can say in their own language, for example, “‘Show me the Taj Mahal,’ and up pops a video showing them this great wonder that they’ve all heard of but never seen,” notes Agrawal. So in some ways the smartphone is a great equalizer.

Fake News on the Phone

Yet with all the apparent benefits, “there is so much that can go wrong,” said Agrawal. One problem is the proliferation of “fake news,” which he noted has sparked religiously-motivated lynchings and other violence.

India has also experienced more internet shutdowns than any other nation — Syria and Iraq follow — in which the government temporarily pulls the plug in the name of halting rumors that spark unrest. There were over 100 shutdowns in 2018 alone, according to Forbes, and the frequency appears to be increasing. These have a negative effect on the economy as well.

There’s also been an explosion in pornography, Agrawal notes. “The head of one of India’s biggest wireless companies told me that 70% of his company’s bandwidth is porn, believe it or not.”

According to Agrawal, a young boy growing up in rural India has a very different life than someone growing up in the West. “He’s not really sensitized to the female body … he’s never even seen a woman’s legs.” He is segregated from girls in school and in college, and may have unhealthy notions of the opposite sex, and sex in general. “And then if porn — and oftentimes violent porn — is this person’s first entry point to romance and sexuality, that’s immensely damaging in ways that I don’t think we fully have come to comprehend as a society,” said Agrawal.

Agrawal was asked about a possible link between the large amount of pornography and the problem of sexual violence against women in India (what BBC News recently called India’s “rape crisis.”) He said that although as a journalist he believed in freedom of information — and that he approached the question of internet porn without passing moral judgment — he believed it was “a real problem … a contributing factor that we have to keep in mind.”

Another internet-related problem is a condition that Agrawal callled nomophobia, or ‘no-mobile-phobia,’ the fear of being separated from your phone or losing battery power, which is on the rise in India. While some may find this hard to take seriously, it’s not a laughing matter, he said. “It’s a growing concern because it has led to many young Indians feeling a real sense of anxiety and depression when they’re not near their phone.” Agrawal linked the phenomenon to the sudden proliferation of smartphones in a population with little or no technology experience.

He drew an interesting comparison between India’s smartphone revolution and the profound effects of the automobile on 20th-century America. The mass availability of the car led to the interstate highway system, which in turn led to the rise of suburban communities and the concept of commuting to work. Cars also helped create so-called bits of “Americana” — diners, gas stations, drive-ins — not to mention the cultural and imaginative zeitgeist. “Every Hollywood movie featured the car: the race, the chase … the first kiss was always in the car.” Agrawal said the car was every American’s “first private property … it was freedom, the American dream.”
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan bridging the #DigitalDivide via #mobile #broadband. 40 unserved tehsils/towns being connected with 900Km optical #fiber cable in Bajaur, Mohmand, Khyber, Orakzai, Kurram & FR (Peshawar) areas and adding 1,795 kms of unserved highways.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government, in its first year, deposited Rs4.76 billion of dividends to the national exchequer on account of shareholding in the Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL). According to the one year performance report of Naya Pakistan, achievements of the Ministry of Information Technology & Telecom, during the last one year, covering areas like ease of doing business, bridging the digital divide, promoting entrepreneurship, increasing foreign exchange earnings and austerity are as follows:

Bridging the data divide through digital inclusion promoting integration projects have been launched to provide voice & broadband services in areas of North/ South Waziristan, FR Bannu/Lakki/Tank, Dadu/Hyderabad & Bahawalpur Districts (3,100 Mauzas) benefiting a population of approximately 6.5 Million.

Forty unserved tehsils/towns are being connected with 900Km optical fiber cable covering Bajaur, Mohmand, Khyber, Orakzai, Kurram & FR (Peshawar) areas.
Through National Roaming Services, 1,795 kms of unserved segments of National Highways including N10 (Uthal to Jiwani), N25 (Hub to Uthal, Uthal to Quetta), N65 (Quetta to Dera Allah Yar), N50 (Kuchlak to Sherani) and N70 (Killa Saifullah to Rakni).
Increasing software exports by establishing linkage between foreign and local ICT sector investors: The registration process of IT and IT enabled services companies with Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB) is now paperless and automated, powering a real time online company directory, searchable by international investors, partners and customers.

This, in turn, has allowed for the number of IT & ITeS companies registered with the government to rise to 2,013 as of 30th June, 2019 compared to 1,762 registrations in the previous year showing an annual growth rate of 14.24%.

As of 30th June 2019, IT & IT enabled Services (ITeS) export remittances have surged to $902 million at a growth rate of 8.19%, whereas, PSEB estimates that total IT & ITeS exports are US$ 4.1 billion that include $0.5 billion earned by Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), Independent Consultants & Freelancers.
Riaz Haq said…
Smartphone imports and digital Pakistan

While the contours of the government's Digital Pakistan Initiative aren't exactly known despite much fanfare about the initiative, it appears that the government is going about its digital drive in a rather haphazard manner. Last week, the Federal Board of Revenue issued a clarification that “Sales Tax and Income Tax at import stage has been drastically reduced in case of smartphones of Rs15000 or below".

It is a good idea to bring down the imported price-tag for budget smartphones. It is, however, unclear as to how much reduction has taken place under the two tax heads. The FBR is typically averse to reducing any tax, but in this case it appears that the higher tax receipts accompanying the exploding mobile phone imports this fiscal have given the tax-body some room to accommodate industry stakeholders.

As per the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, mobile-phone imports (HS Code: 8517.1219) had reached $498 million in the Jul-Nov period – a growth of 64 percent year-on-year, or in absolute terms, an additional import of more than $100 million! At this pace, full-year imports will reach close to $1.2 billion. That would be an additional $500 million spent on handset imports compared to what was sent abroad in FY19.

In recent years, Pakistan has been importing, on average, about 11 million mobile phones every year. That is a good enough market for import-substitution to take place. In the ongoing fiscal, this quantum may end up exceeding that average. Regulatory crackdown on smuggled phones as well as withdrawal of duty-free import of phones under baggage rules are going to reflect most of the actual imports in official data.

If smartphones are indeed the pivot around which the country's digital economy and its digital society are to develop over time, the government's digital drive may have to contend with two competing priorities. On one hand, the cost of imported smartphones has to be brought down to a level where it becomes more affordable for low-income customer segments. On the other hand, the price for a viable local smartphone manufacturing will have to be paid through import-related protections to interested parties.

Assuming there is a billion-dollar local market for a couple of viable smartphone manufacturing entities to grow business in Pakistan, the onus is on the industrial policy czars to start capitalizing, sooner rather than later, on this potential industrialization opportunity by offering both fiscal and non-fiscal incentives. In that context, whatever became of the much-awaited “Mobile Device Manufacturing Policy" that was to be released by the Ministry of Industries?
Riaz Haq said…
Cut in import duty: FBR shatters MoI&P’s mobile handset-making policy dream

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) is said to have shattered Ministry of Industries and Production's dream of domestic mobile handsets manufacturing policy by reducing duty on imported mobile phones without taking the stakeholders on board, well-informed sources in Ministry of Industries and Production told Business Recorder.

“This is still a mystery who moved the summary to reduce duty on imported mobile phones. None of the Ministry of IT & Telecom, Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Industries Ministry is aware," the sources added.

Local mobile phone assemblers are of the view that with the decision, their facilities will be shut down and engineers and other young workers will lose their jobs. Pakistan will keep importing from China, Vietnam and Bangladesh, etc.

Mobile handset manufacturing industry is one of the top five industries worldwide having sales revenue of $522 billion approximately and sales of over six billion devices. China has been the global hub of handsets manufacturing since 2010 having exports of over $ 150 billion per year. Mobile handset production is moving out of China due to increasing labour cost in China and trade war with the USA.

Owing to significant size of population and continuous growth in mobile connectivity, Pakistan is world's seventh largest handset importer in the world. This makes Pakistan market as an attractive destination for global brands. But currently, the market is largely dependent on imports as local manufacturing regime remained unattractive over the years.

According to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), Pakistan's total annual market size (2G /3G /4G) is estimated at 34 million units out of which 20 million are 2G and 14 million units are 3G & 4G collectively. It has been observed that 4G devices have seen a growth from 16 percent (Jan 2018) to 29 percent (Aug 2019) whereas 3G devices have witnessed a drop from 19 percent to 16 percent during the same period. In addition, 2G devices have witnessed drop from 64 percent (Jan 2018) to 57 percent (Aug 2019) whereas growth in 4G devices from 16 percent (Jan 2018) to 29 percent (Aug 2019) has been observed. The statistics reveal that local market is shifting gradually to the latest technology. Device Identification, Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS) project of PTA has been instrumental to control smuggling of mobile phone devices and has provided safeguard against the security hazards. International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) registration requirement under DIRBS has resulted in growth of both; local manufacturing and imports through legal channels.
Riaz Haq said…
Cut in import duty: FBR shatters MoI&P’s mobile handset-making policy dream

Currently one Chinese joint venture has been established to manufacture 3G/4G mobile phones in Karachi and few companies have set up their manufacturing facilities in collaboration with Chinese Principals; (vi) over the next 2-3 years local production can reach up to 80 percent of total Pakistan handset market if attractive tariff plan is given to the industry; (vii) creation of up to 100,000 hi-skill direct jobs in electronics & information technology industry & up to 400,000 in-direct jobs in ancillary sectors; (viii) a typical smart phone constitutes more than 60 parts and its assembly is a labor intensive. Pakistan can benefit from its low labor cost; (ix) China exports US $150 billion worth of smart phones every year and Chinese investors are looking for alternate manufacturing base in view of trade war with USA. Pakistan can become a hub for Chinese manufacturers in case an attractive policy and predictability is ensured to the industry for at-least five years and ;(x) local assembly will help create an echo system for development of local mobile software, applications and R&D centers in Pakistan.

“We are expecting 2,000 jobs if the local mobile sets policy is approved by the federal government," the sources added.
Riaz Haq said…
Financial inclusion in Pakistan increases to 30% - Profit by Pakistan Today

KARACHI: Financial inclusion in Pakistan has increased by 9 basis points from 2020 to 2022 and women’s access, specifically has hit a double-digit percentage for the first time, as recorded by a survey conducted by Karandaaz Pakistan.

As defined by the World Bank, “financial inclusion means that individuals and businesses have access to useful and affordable financial products and services that meet their needs – transactions, payments, savings, credit and insurance – delivered in a responsible and sustainable way.” This means conducting transactions through banks, mobile money and fintech.

The Karandaaz Financial Inclusion Survey (K-FIS) measures the percentage of adults above the age of 15 who report having at least one account in their name with an institution that offers a full range of financial services that is also documented by the government of Pakistan.

Following a significant jump in financial inclusion between 2017 and 2020, K-FIS recorded a substantial rise in the level of financial inclusion from 21% in 2020 to 30% of adults in 2022. Registered mobile money users more than doubled with an increase from 9% to 19%, while registered bank users also increased by 4 basis points over the same period.

By region, Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) recorded the highest level of financial inclusion at 45%, followed by Gilgit Baltistan at 35% and Azad Jammu & Kashmir at 34%.

Looking at the division by gender, male registration accounted for the bulk of financial account registrations in 2022 with 47% having at least one registered financial account. Comparatively, only 13% of women are recorded to have at least one registered financial account. Although women’s percentage accounts for less than half of their male counterparts, the financial account registration for women has reached double digits for the first time.

Overall, the largest increase was seen in mobile money wallet users, as active usage increased from 8% in 2020 to 16% in 2022. Active usage also saw an increase in bank account holders, indicating an increase from 12% in 2020 to 14% in 2022.

Addressing the webinar held by Karandaaz Pakistan on February 7, 2023, Noor Ahmed, Director of the Agri Finance and Financial Inclusion Department of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) said, “Over the years, there has been significant progress on financial inclusion. Key initiatives such as RAAST have been transformative in furthering the inclusion of the marginalised.”

Karandaaz Pakistan is a not-for-profit special-purpose vehicle set up under Section 42 in August 2014. The company is the implementation partner of the Enterprise and Asset Growth Programme (EAGR) and Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) programme of the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO).

Popular posts from this blog

Pakistani Women's Growing Particpation in Workforce

Project Azm: Pakistan to Develop 5th Generation Fighter Plane

Pakistan's Saadia Zahidi Leads World Economic Forum's Gender Parity Effort