The Asaan Mobile Account (AMA) will play an important role in enhancing digital access and use of formal financial services in the country, said State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Reza Baqir.

Speaking at the launching ceremony of AMA on Monday, Baqir projected that the initiative would lead to a significant increase in bank account openings, according to a statement.

The lack of internet access and proximity to branchless banking outlets/ bank branches would no longer be the barriers to financial services for the Pakistanis, he added. “Accounts can now be opened by dialing a code (*2262#) from any mobile phone through any mobile network, without requiring internet connectivity,” he highlighted.

Customers could choose any of the 13 branchless banking service providers offering AMA, he added.

Giving details, the SBP governor said that Pakistan had over 187 million biometrically verified mobile subscribers with teledensity of around 85%.

“However, there are only 106 million 3G/ 4G subscribers with mobile internet penetration standing at 48%.”

Thus, around 81 million mobile subscribers did not have access to the internet and could become users of AMA if provided with the right value proposition, he calculated.

The initiative would particularly help the low-income segment, which did not have access to digital phones and internet, as it offered a simpler process to avail financial services, the statement said.

The platform would also help in onboarding Pakistani women facing difficulties in accessing financial services due to mobility, cultural and documentation issues, it added.

The platform “with its ease of use will be instrumental in bringing the next 50 million Pakistanis under the banking ambit”.

In line with the vision of Digital Pakistan to enhance digital infrastructure and innovation, the platform could also be used by the government for disbursing money under the flagship poverty alleviation programme Ehsaas to reach 15 million beneficiaries, the statement said.

“AMA is an initiative of SBP to achieve the National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) target of promoting digital financial inclusion in the country.”

On the occasion, a memorandum of understanding was signed among 13 branchless banking service providers to affirm their commitment to facilitating customers through continued collaboration for more innovations in line with the NFIS vision.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 14th, 2021.

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