The high rate of financial exclusion in Pakistan is mindboggling. As to the State Bank of Pakistan’s Access to Finance Survey (2015), only 16 per cent of Pakistanis had a bank account and 23 per cent had formal financial access.
For the longest time, financial inclusion merely meant opening a bank account. This approach can produce only a limited impact, given the vigorously long procedure of opening a bank account, lack of credit history and liquidity.
In recent years an important driver towards financial inclusion has been mobile money. The ease of performing transactions through your phone converts your phone into a financial access channel.
What could be more of a virus carrier than cash that goes from one hand to the other, multiple times? Cash exchange became deadly during covid and wanting or not people had to shift to digital banking. Covid changed the dynamic of many sectors, but the innovation in financial technology is unbeatable.
We are living in the age of the fintech revolution. Currently, more than 220 fintech companies are operating in Pakistan, among which 40 are highly notable, getting global funding.
The fintech platforms can be divided into three categories of Fintech startups, Fintech Companies and Fintech Banks.
We have picked the favourites that we believe would be making big news this year.
Easypaisa is one of the first and most popular fintech services in Pakistan that offers mobile-based branchless banking services all across the country. From the poorest to the middle-class, EasyPaisa seems to be a trusted name among all classes.
- It offers Over-the-counter (OTC) transactions, bill payment, and mobile banking.
- It also enables its customers to pay domestic and international payments securely without any hassle.
- It lets you purchase airtime, give donations, pay for insurance, and disburse salaries and social cash transfers effortlessly.
- It also offers Inter Bank fund transfers, health insurance, handset lending, and secure online payments anytime from anywhere you want.
TAG provides a digital experience of everyday banking.
Tag, a one-year-old startup, has raised over $12 million making it the largest seed financing round in the South Asian market.
Finja is a financial services platform for professionals, merchants, and SMEs providing credit and payments solutions. It simplifies the process of salaries, loans, bills, rolling out payments, online shopping and provides better business process management, all with just a click.
Some of the services they offer to their customers without any additional charges are Finja Wallet, Finja Retail, CRM Solution, Digital Wallet, and Payroll Plus. It also provides the FINJA card that turns into a debit or credit card according to the customer’s needs.
SadaPay offers hassle-free efficient financial services with no additional cost. You can securely send and receive digital payment through their mobile app.
On a mission to replace complexities and high costs in traditional banking, SadaPay runs without a physical setup. SadaPay’s branchless digital bank service comes with a digital wallet and a Mastercard debit card.
Moreover, it offers an effortless interaction with merchants. Accounts are also enabled for international transfers from 45 countries.
The firm secured one of the largest fintech funding round in 2021, at US$7.2mn, raising its total funding to US$9.3mn.
JazzCash is Pakistan’s largest branchless banking service provider. It has made transactions easy and quick for the vast majority. Users can send money on CNIC, mobile numbers, and bank accounts through JazzCash.
It is now a leading mobile payments platform in Pakistan, competing closely with EasyPasia. By 2019, JazzCash had 6.5 mn active digital wallets and had conducted transactions worth $13bn.
QisstPay introduced the concept of payments in instalments from small things with the minimum cost as small as Rs. 1500. Many renowned brands have integrated QisstPay in their payment checkout section. As you pay the first instalment through your credit or debit card, the next instalment is deducted itself after 30 days.
The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) awarded QisstPay, a Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) license in December 2021. This BNPL license of a Non-Banking Finance Company (NBFC) is the first of its kind to a new Fintech concept.
NayaPay is one of the first electronic money institutions in Pakistan. It has partnered with the leading banks and agent networks to enable customers to open E-money wallets. Customers can send and receive money through effortless and secured digital transactions.
It has earned commercial approval to operate as the first Electronic Money Institution in Pakistan, after a year-long pilot and inspection by the State Bank.
NayaPay claims its card is superior to cash, as it’s more convenient, secure and well sleekier!
Tez Financial Services
Tez is the first completely digital non-bank microfinance company in Pakistan. Tez offers credit, savings, insurance, and investments via a uniform, data-driven platform. increase financial inclusion through its fast, efficient and transparent services.
Tez has expanded to offer health services, health insurance, loans and life insurance plans in collaboration with EFU, a leading domestic insurance company.
Karandaaz is one of a kind not-for-profit company promoting access to finance for SMEs through a commercially directed investment platform. It also increases opportunities and eases the process of financial inclusion for individuals by employing technology-enabled solutions.
Karandaaz has been committed to a grant by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with a vision to increase the poor’s access to digital financial services. It has also been provided with a grant by the UK government’s Department for International Development (DFID) under the Enterprise and Asset Growth Programme (EAGR).
Karandaaz started a green challenge fund to financially support corporations, non-profit organizations, green-techs or unregistered businesses that can contribute to tackling problems such as air pollution, waste management, and water scarcity.
This was our list of some fintech companies operating and doing exceptionally well in Pakistan.
We must always keep in mind that financial inclusion is highly dependent on creating the enabling environment for financial access.
The lack of internet services in underprivileged areas, the compromised internet speed in most areas and most importantly the trust deficit in the population regarding digital money are some of the many reasons people are still hesitant towards and even unaware of fintech companies.
The most important driver to speed up the shift to digital banking are incentives and awareness by the government. Every Government has a responsibility to provide the laws and regulations that encourage both financial sector development and inclusion.
The IT infrastructure is developing, the current government has been responsive towards the issues of the digital sector and the startup spike getting global investors coming to Pakistan is paving the way for an expansion of the fintech sector.
The hopes are high but there’s still a long way to go.
Let us know in the comments below, stories of people around you, especially among the low-income population, that shifted to digital financial services and what their experience has been like.