Thursday December 02, 2021

International survey finds rapid shift toward online payments in Pakistan

December 23, 2020

ISLAMABAD: A significant portion of young population in Pakistan migrated to online modes of shopping and payments during the pandemic-hit outgoing year, according to an international survey’s finding.

Standard Chartered’s latest global survey of 12,000 adults across 12 markets, including Pakistan found almost 72 percent of respondents in the country agree that COVID-19 has made them more positive about online shopping, but they are also more careful with their spending and want new ways to track their money digitally.

In Pakistan, 76 percent preferred to shop in-person prior to the pandemic compared to 24 percent online. But this has shifted, with 37 percent now preferring online payments to in-person card or cash payments for future purchases. This increase in preference for online payments is true across a range of purchases, from groceries and travel to digital devices.

As a result, almost three-quarters of Pakistanis are now more positive about shopping online.

However, despite the increased enthusiasm for shopping online, only 39 percent of Pakistanis expect their country to go fully cashless in the future, the lowest of all the countries surveyed.

“In the current extraordinary and uncertain times, people are being more cautious with their spending. Keeping track of where your money goes has never been so important,” Mujtaba Abbas, country head of Retail Banking, Standard Chartered Bank Pakistan said in a statement.

“As per our data, online payments have increased but there is more banks can do to help. With three-quarters of people either using or wanting to use budgeting of financial control tools, it’s imperative that banks continue to innovate digitally so that clients can easily transact, track and manage their spending in a safe and secure way.”

Across the 10 surveyed markets, where Standard Chartered offers retail banking (except the UK and US), COVID-19 has dramatically accelerated the decline in automated teller machines (ATM) usage. Cash withdrawals from ATMs are now half what they were two years ago.

Meanwhile, as spending begins to creep up with lockdowns easing globally – 57 percent of those in Pakistan reported increased spending in July (46 percent globally) –79 percent of people in Pakistan say the pandemic has made them more careful with their expenditure.

Reflecting this increased caution, 62 percent of survey respondents in Pakistan said the economic impact of COVID-19 has made them more likely to track their spending, with 77 percent either using or wanting to use budgeting tools.

Consumers around the world, including in Pakistan, are now spending more on basics - such as groceries and healthcare - and digital devices than they did prior to the pandemic, and they expect this increase to continue in the future. Out of all the countries surveyed, Pakistan has reported the greatest increase in spending on healthcare (58 percent) and charitable donations (37 percent) compared to before the pandemic.

Meanwhile, 66 percent of people in Pakistan say they have spent less on travel/holidays than they did before the pandemic, while 57 percent have spent less on clothes. This trend is expected to continue in Pakistan with 31 percent saying they anticipate spending less on travel/holidays and 27 percent on clothes in the future.

As well as being increasingly careful with their spending, consumers are becoming more conscientious.

This is good news for small businesses and those producing locally made goods, particularly those making and selling sustainably sourced products. In Pakistan, more than half of people say they are now more likely to shop locally (66 percent), more sustainably (56 percent) and with small businesses (63 percent).