Published on Business Recorder, November 23, 2012
Zong in collaboration with Askari Bank is planning to provide a complete branchless banking solution including wide spectrum of services like mobile account, money transfers, utility bill payment etc. Industry sources said here on Thursday that the State Bank of Pakistan had issued branchless banking license to Zong and Askari Bank.
Zong and Askari entered into a pilot project on May 22, 2012 which went under SBP audit in mid September 2012 and recently license to launch a complete branchless banking portfolio was given. The product will include all of the branchless banking services that Zong is going to offer, in addition to innovative services like salary disbursements.
The project is a joint venture arrangement between Zong and Askari Bank therefore the revenue will also be shared between the partners. The uniqueness of the project lies in the successful relationship between Zong and Askari bank where none of the parties has any shares or controlling interest in each other.
Usman Ishaq, Executive Director Commercial, Zong said, “the branchless banking is only a beginning of a new banking revolution in the country, we are launching our new branchless banking services to foster financial inclusion of the unbanked population in Pakistan. There is no doubt that Branchless banking has successfully accelerated financial inclusion and changed the financial landscape in many developing countries but it is still not enough to meet the demand. ZONG’s aim is to bridge this gap and bring banking services to our customer’s finger tips.”
This project targets the un-banked population of the country, with no means of availing banking/financial services. The services will be launched commercially very soon. In Pakistan, branchless banking is currently dominated by the bank-led model, whereby banks collaborate with mobile network operators and technology service providers to serve the unbanked. The two major banking models are EasyPaisa by Tameer Microfinance Bank and Telenor, and “Omni” by United Bank Limited (UBL).
Pakistan has the regulatory environment and supporting institutional framework to extend the frontiers of branchless banking, and the State Bank continues to pursue its policy of actively engaging with stakeholders, both financial and non-financial, to help banks and Microfinance institutions adopt international best practices and models to diversify their financial services and accelerate the adoption of innovative delivery channels for branchless banking. Branchless banking makes possible direct cash transfers to the poorest people, and helps them access financial services through alternative delivery channels such as mobile phones, ATMs, third party agents, and PoS terminals.
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