Quarterly report notes substantial increase in digital financial transactions, including e-banking and installation of point of sale machines
The State Bank of Pakistan on Thursday issued its Quarterly Payment System Review for October-December 2020, showing “strong growth” in digital financial transactions, primarily in the e-banking sector.
According to the report, 296.7 million e-banking transactions valued at Rs. 21.4 trillion were carried out in the previous quarter, a growth of 24 percent by volume and 22 percent by value over the same period in 2019. Most of the rise in e-banking transactions was seen in internet and mobile banking, with mobile banking transactions hitting 44 million, compared to 17.8 million a year earlier.
The number of registered mobile phone banking users grew to 9.4 million, while 22 million internet banking transactions, valued at Rs. 1.3 trillion, were recorded against Rs. 1.1 trillion the previous year.
The central bank noted that it’s incentivizing of the installation of point of sale machines to facilitate digital payments through debit or credit cards had shown an 18 percent increase, and 62,480 were now installed nationwide. “On these POS machines, 23 million transactions amounting to Rs. 115 billion were processed during Q2FY21,” it said, adding that card-based transactions on e-commerce portals also increased substantially, with e-commerce merchants processing 5.6 million transactions through payment cards—worth Rs. 15 billion—in the second quarter against 3.9 million—worth Rs. 11.9 billion—in the first quarter.
Hailing the “shift in the behavior of the Pakistani population,” the State Bank said overall 27.6 million debit cards and 1.7 million credit cards had been issued to citizens. Additionally, it said, 7.6 million were social welfare cards that had been issued on behalf of various government organizations.
“In the last few years, digital payment transactions in Pakistan have shown significant growth, reflecting the favorable impact of the SBP’s policies in shifting customer preferences,” read the statement issued by the central bank. “Expansion in digital payment infrastructure as well as the emergence of new payment aggregators have played a role in this growth,” it added.
The State Bank affirmed that it would continue promoting digitization in the country and expects the banking sector industry to support these efforts, as they would increase financial inclusion for all Pakistanis.