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Pakistan unveils first domestic payment gateway

By our correspondents
April 06, 2016

KARACHI: Pakistan on Tuesday unveiled the country’s first domestic payment scheme ‘PayPak’ to facilitate ecommerce and improve financial inclusion.

“The new payment (gateway) will compete in the domestic market with other international payment schemes,” the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) said in a statement. “However, the new card will only be used within Pakistan and will offer the benefit of low cost, ease of affordability and security to ordinary citizens.” 

1Link, which is already providing interoperability services for auto teller machine transactions as well as interbank fund transfers and utility bill payment facility, has introduced PayPak. 

“With this launch, Pakistan became the 28th country in the world to have its own domestic payment scheme,” the statement said.

The SBP Governor Ashraf Wathra, while inaugurating the scheme, said one of the strategic goals of the central bank for the year 2020 is to transform the digital payments landscape in the country by ensuring digital financial access to both the un-served and underserved population. It will also reduce the transaction cost and improve overall efficiency, Wathra said.

“The initiative will provide affordable, safe and efficient alternative to the existing banked population as well as provide an opportunity to offer low cost payment services to the unbanked citizens,” he said.

Governor SBP hoped that this launch would catalyse the adoption and usage of plastic card among consumers, merchants and banks in Pakistan. “The launch of domestic payment scheme will also help in reducing the outflow of foreign exchange to international payment schemes as a part of fee payment,” he added.

He urged the banks to rapidly adopt the new payment scheme and ensure that its benefits are transferred to ordinary citizens.

Deputy Governor Saeeed Ahmad of SBP said Pakistan achieved SBP’s two strategic goals (promoting financial inclusion and building a robust and modern payment system) by introducing this scheme.

“While the issuance of domestic card is a good initiative, the banking sector has to create its acceptability among the masses,” he said. 

He advised the banking industry to adopt a more service-oriented approach and provide easy access to financial services to their customers.

Javaad Khan, Partner of Mackenzie & Co appreciated the initiative of introducing domestic card scheme.

Khan said Pakistan has become one of the few countries which have their own payment scheme.

He said research has shown that countries with their own payment schemes are better able to provide financial services to all levels of their population.