On the second day of the 2-day Pakistan Innovative Finance Forum, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and Karandaaz signed an agreement to partner for the implementation of Micropayment Gateway, a part of the National Financial Inclusion Strategy. The agreement was signed by Ali Sarfraz, CEO Karandaaz and Syed Sohail Javvad, Head of Payment Systems Department, SBP. The signing was witnessed by Queen Maxima of Netherlands currently visiting Pakistan; Mr. Hammad Azhar, Minister for Economic Affairs Division; Dr. Reza Baqir, Governor SBP; Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, Chairperson Karandaaz; Syed Ali Mahmood, Program Officer, Global Development, Financial Services for the Poor, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Mr. Richard Crowder, Acting British Commissioner in Pakistan and Mr. Jamil Ahmed, Deputy Governor SBP. Through this agreement, Karandaaz with funding from BMGF will support SBP to put in place this gateway, a digital payment platform based on modern technology making real time interoperability of smaller digital transfers possible.
Queen Maxima visiting Pakistan in her capacity as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA) address she stressed, “It is encouraging that State Bank of Pakistan is committed to set up the micro-payment platform and that all providers and government entities will be required to join in 2020. The next steps in designing the appropriate governance structure, scheme rules, initial use cases, and pricing will be critical for the platforms to succeed and to have impact. I encourage you all to engage with industry Working Group led by the State Bank and also to discuss and provide your inputs on the design.”
Speaking at the occasion, Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, Chairperson Karandaaz said, “In Pakistan, around 50% of the adult population, mostly women, lack access to formal financial services. Most households resort to risky, inefficient, and expensive informal channels to fulfill their financial needs. Immediate clearance of transactions will keep the system-cost low and providers would contribute data to a shared service, ensuring all users and transactions are legitimate and risk free. Millions of people in Pakistan are not included in the formal economy and thus miss out on the many advantages of formal financial systems. With a high mobile phone penetration, Pakistan is well positioned to expand and accelerate digital financial systems and this micropayment gateway will go a long way in spurring financial inclusion in the country.”
Speaking at the occasion, Ali Sarfraz, CEO Karandaaz said, “Karandaaz aims to catalyse the financial services industry towards greater financial inclusion by employing cutting-edge innovations and digital solutions for social impact. We collaborate across the financial services ecosystem to maximize impact through improved access to digital finance for low income, rural, and otherwise excluded population segments and this micropayment gateway will help us impact the financial inclusion paradigm in a significant and meaningful manner.”
Karandaaz is supporting micro, small and mediumenterprise sector in Pakistan through access to finance, promoting financial inclusion for unbanked populations by leveraging digital technologies, developing and disseminating evidence-based insights, and encouraging innovation in financial space. Karandaaz has received funding from the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).