Global experts share experiences of financial inclusion in joint workshop




State Bank of Pakistan Governor Ashraf Mahmood Wathra and Swedish Ambassador Ingrid Johansson co-hosted a one day workshop on the topic of “Financial and Social Inclusion through Mobile Money and M-Commerce” in Islamabad. International experts from Sweden shared their experiences of digitising the payment landscape in Sweden, Peru and Rwanda for enhanced financial and social inclusion. The event had participation from public sector officials from related ministries and departments.

In his opening remarks, Governor Wathra said that as policy makers they must adopt inclusive approaches while developing policies and infrastructures that can offer equal opportunities to all to enhance social and financial inclusion. He said that Pakistan has made significant efforts to make financial markets more inclusive and the SBP has been on the forefront to develop an inclusive digital financial services ecosystem in Pakistan where mobile money can be utilised for basic financial services such as funds transfers, bill payments, retail payments and access to credit. The SBP issued the Branchless Banking regulations in 2008 and since then, Branchless Banking has witnessed tremendous growth.

He said that the SBP’s efforts for promotion of financial inclusion have been yielding noteworthy results.

“Today, Pakistan is considered one of the fastest growing markets for branchless banking due to its innovative policy approach which has helped catalyze business models and technological innovations to build banking channels for low income households,” he said.

Sweden’s Ambassador to Pakistan Ingrid Johansson said that the Swedish government is supports public and private sectors collaboration for innovations.

Later, a presentation was given by Dr Niklas Arvidsson to highlight the path of Sweden’s evolution from cash driven to cash-lite society through digital financial services which started in 1960. He said that though Sweden has made significant progress towards digitisation of payments, it is still expected that it cannot become a cashless society before 2030.

The SBP also shared details of the progress of creating interoperable digital services and the National Financial Inclusion Strategy. It was stressed that Interoperability cannot be exclusive and a collaborative approach can lead to developing a uniform digital platform that can facilitate financial and social inclusion.

Experts from Ericsson also gave a presentation to the participants about experiences of other countries such as, Rwanda, and Peru, which have achieved effective digitisation of payments to advance social and financial inclusion in order to create a cashless society.

Concluding the workshop, SBP Executive Director Syed Samar Husnain thanked the Swedish ambassador for co-hosting the session. He thanked the experts for their detailed presentations and the participants for attending the event.

The workshop was attended by senior representatives from federal and provincial ministries and departments including PTA, NADRA, SECP, Pakistan Post, and ministries of Finance, Commerce, Auqaf, Information and Technology.