Branchless banking transactions witnessed a robust growth of 29 percent during the July-September

KARACHI ( NADEEM REPORT )

Branchless banking transactions witnessed a robust growth of 29 percent during the July-September quarter in 2013 and reached Rs224 billion in value, said a report issued by the State Bank of Pakistan.

According to the SBP’s Branchless Banking Newsletter, branchless banking accounts climbed up by 12 percent and reached 2.96 million in number. About 51.9 million transactions were recorded during Jul-Sep, 2013, which is 16 percent higher than the previous quarter.

The growth demonstrated stems from small-value transactions (averaging Rs4,315) largely carried out by the unbanked segment of the population for domestic remittances, social welfare payments such as BISP, Watan Card etc, pension payments, and utility bill payments.

Owing to SBP’s supportive policy environment for branchless banking, these services are being offered through alternative delivery channels in the form of agent network, mobile phones, alternate teller machines (ATMs), and point of sale (PoS), the report said.

The agent network continued to rapidly expand and has reached 110,214 in number. This fast expansion has also been fueled by the trend of using shared agents by the providers. According to the newsletter, over the counter (OTC) transactions were 41.87 million worth Rs116.8 billion, demonstrating growth of 12 percent in volume, and 24 percent in value, during the quarter.

Meanwhile, 7.2 million mobile-wallet transactions, valuing Rs13.6 billion were performed, signifying 32 percent growth in volume and 44% in value during the quarter. Even though OTC transactions, with a share of 81 percent in overall number of BB transactions, dominated mobile-wallet transactions which seized a share of 14 percent, if compared to last quarter a slight pickup of two percent share in m-wallets transactions has been observed.

The branchless banking market, currently consisting of eight players, is gradually becoming competitive and innovative. According to the newsletter, international consultants from the World Bank testified in a workshop held at SBP in December 2013 that SBP’s policy framework for BB and financial inclusion is in sync with the best approach for optimally managing linkages between financial inclusion and central banks’ traditionally core objectives of financial stability, financial integrity, and consumer protection.

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