According to the World Bank’s Financial Inclusion Data, just 10 percent of the population of Pakistan has a bank account. That leaves 90 percent without one. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Pakistan is the fifth largest mobile phone market in Asia. With approximately 130 million mobile phone users, Pakistan has one of the fastest-developing branchless banking markets in the world.
Two recent Sybase 365 partnerships promise are part of this mobile banking expansion. We’ve joined forces with Habib Bank Limited (HBL) and Allied Bank Limited (ABL) to offer mobile financial services to customers across the country.
These deployments will enable both banks to enhance the mobile banking currently available to customers. Perhaps more important, they provide a new avenue into the formal banking system for the large unbanked and under-banked populations living in remote areas. With limited access to ATMs and the Internet, people living in rural areas have traditionally had to spend a day or more traveling to banks and utility providers to cash checks and pay bills, often waiting in a long lines when they arrive. The proliferation of mobile phones and mobile banking continues to help these communities by saving time, simplifying lives, improving security, and fuelling local economies.
The HBL deployment should launch before the end of this year. ABL has its sights set on 2013. While both banks are early to enter the market, United Bank Limited (UBL) Omni was the first bank in the country to offer branchless banking, launching in 2010. Easypaisa, by operator Telenor Pakistan, is a well-established and popular mobile commerce service that anyone can use.
Mobile is undoubtedly emerging as a vital banking channel in emerging and developed markets alike. Both of these branchless banking initiatives will help change the way Pakistanis interact with their financial institutions and communities—and undoubtedly bring more people into the formal banking system.