ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan visited the Ehsaas Kafaalat payment site on Friday to kick off payments to 7 million beneficiaries.
Special Assistant to PM Dr Sania Nishtar briefed the premier about several measures that have been taken to improve the quality of payments and to ensure protection against cyber-attacks.
PM Imran, who also interacted with beneficiaries, was told that this time round, women could access banks and take money out from ATMs.
“The Ehsaas payment system is designed in a way to provide maximum options to the beneficiaries, including the first-time introduction of the option to draw money from a biometric ATM. This means that vulnerable women will no longer be hostage to corrupt agents and touts, who tend to deduct money,” Dr Sania said.
The prime minister was told that the Ehsaas Kafaalat payments would be made in phases. In Phase I, which commenced on Friday, some 4.3 million women beneficiaries would get the payments. Each beneficiary would be made a combined payment of Rs12,000 for six months from July to December 2020.
The prime minister has already given approval to increase the number to seven million women, which means seven million households will benefit. Payments to additional beneficiaries will be made from December 2020 onwards and the process will be completed in the current fiscal year.
During the visit, the prime minister was also shown the trial run of the operations of “Ehsaas One Woman One Bank Account”.
From next year onwards, the Ehsaas Kafaalat beneficiaries will have the option of either drawing their money or saving money into digital wallets. For the first time, the poorest women in Pakistan will have the option to save their payments.
“We will have to focus on financial literacy to ensure that women draw maximum benefit from this empowering initiative,” Dr Sania said.
“Financial inclusion is a central goal of Ehsaas and key to unlocking the potential of millions of the most disadvantaged women in Pakistan. By providing individuals with access to secure, useful and affordable financial products and services like transactions, payments, savings, credit and insurance, we are giving them the financial security required to escape poverty and create a better life for themselves and their families,” she added.
As part of an efficient digital system for Kafaalat, payments will also be possible at point of sales at retail points through machines which authenticate biometrically.
Alongside in the interest of transparency and integrity, a number of innovative reforms have recently been introduced, including device restrictions, new protocols for user authentication, systems based geo-tagging and fencing disbursement timing block, and system generated electronic printed receipts for funds withdrawal so that beneficiaries can see the exact amount of funds that have been transferred in their accounts, and are empowered.
Further, aiming to protect the payment system and empower Kafaalat recipients, the partnering banks have been asked to make sure that the quality of biometric machines at retailer touchpoints is in accordance with international standards.
Other significant improvements to safeguard transparent flow of Kafaalat funds include retailers’ trainings, complaints’ resolution mechanism, real time reporting of transactions and dashboards have been created for alerts and for information sharing about how and where the money was being disbursed.
Dr Sania herself attended trainings of retailers last week to learn about their perspective first-hand.
In Pakistan, most of the digitally and financially excluded segments were destitute women. Ehsaas Kafaalat ensured financial and digital inclusion of deserving women across the country, the prime minister was told.
Changing lives of millions of women, ‘Ehsaas One Woman One Account Initiative’ will help the marginalized people plan for everything from long-term goals to unexpected emergencies.