Mobile operators expanding financial outreach: Dr Loch

KARACHI (MEDIA)

Dr Christoph H Loch, director at Cambridge Judge Business School, finds innovative the creation of branchless banking business in Pakistan by mobile phone operators, saying it is helping banks in advancing services and their reach to public.

“Though the idea of branchless banking is not new in the world, but it has have a huge impact on the society in Pakistan,” said Loch, who visited Karachi School for Business and Leadership (KSBL) last week, “Telecom operators are expected to take the number of bank accountholders to 70-80 million in Pakistan from 20 to 30 million presently; total population stands at 180 million.”

Prof. Dr. Loch joined Cambridge Judge Business School in September 2011. His research revolves around how organisations make innovations happen. Besides, he had led a number of businesses and taught at schools.

The KSBL entered into a comprehensive strategic collaboration agreement with the Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, in 2009. It was established by some leading businessmen of Pakistan including Hussain Dawood, Aqeel Karim Dhedhi, Arif Habib, Muhammad Ali Tabba, Atif R. Bokhari and Syed Shabbar Zaidi. The school took in first batch of 38 students about two months ago.

Dr. Loch said that telecom operators were helping banks in overcoming limitations that they were facing in penetration into the society.

As a matter of fact, three out of total five mobile phone operators in Pakistan are offering branchless banking as of now. Telenor was first to launch such services about one-and-half year ago, while Mobilink and Zong started the services very recently. Services include paying utility bills, transferring cash from one account to another one, and some other financial transactions through mobile phones.

The director said that he had also found a couple of other business ideas interesting and innovative in Pakistan that inspired him when he was briefed in the country. “There are a couple of other business examples that make my instincts say hmm,” he said.

He said that he had found almost no gap between KSBL academia and businesses in Pakistan. “I had an interaction with some 150 senior businessmen at a reception in Pakistan. They did not give me impression that there was a gap between KSBL academia and businesses in the country.”

When asked was KSBL preparing students to go abroad to work there as many of the faculty members were from abroad, he replied his impression was that KSBL was neither creating bunch of people to leave the country in search of jobs, nor did students have such ambitions by and large. “The aim of KSBL is not to instigate negative brain-drain.”

However, “if they [students] feel to go then you let them go” or Pakistan has such ambitions to develop the economy to that point that offers them the opportunity to stay here or convince them to come back.

Comparing Pakistan’s economy with India’s, he said that the latter had been developed to the extent of offering job opportunities to highly educated people. “There is nothing impossible.”

He said that Pakistan needed very well trained managers, who were able to build organisations, which were larger and able to resist crisis. “If Pakistan wants to increase its international competitiveness and its income and wealth, then it needs managers.”

He said small and medium size enterprises are backbone of some of the economies including developed economies, but they only cater to local demand and don’t make countries internationally competitive.

He believed that the school in collaboration with the Cambridge would help creating highly educated people, who would be aware of their responsibilities, business ethics, and social values as well.

Dr. Loch said that the Cambridge Judge Business School was only assisting KSBL in hiring dean, faculty members, and designing curriculum, but not operating it at all. “The school will soon hire more faculty members, who will be having local knowledge to preach wisdom to students.”Mobile banking

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