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KARACHI: Pakistan launched its first domestic payment scheme on Tuesday, becoming 28th country to have such system.

The new payment scheme has been branded as PayPak and will compete in the domestic market with other international payment schemes. However, the new card will only be used within Pakistan and will offer the benefit of low cost, ease of affordability and security to ordinary citizens.

PayPak has been introduced by 1Link which is already providing interoperability services for ATM transactions as well as interbank fund transfers and utility bill payment facility.

Governor State Bank Ashraf Mahmood Wathra, who launched the scheme, emphasised that secure and efficient payment systems were critical for effective functioning of the financial system and crucial for the provision of digital financial services like collecting and making payments, making deposits and obtaining credit, buying goods, paying utility bills, paying for housing, healthcare, insurance and education, remitting money to friends, family, and business partners.

These services may be availed by using channels such as mobile phone, kiosk or other digital interfaces.

The governor said that this initiative will not only provide affordable, safe and efficient alternative to the existing banked population in the country but will also provide an opportunity to offer low-cost payment services to the unbanked citizens thus bringing them in the sphere of financial inclusion.

“The launch of domestic payment scheme will also help in reducing the outflow of foreign exchange to international payment schemes as a part of fee payment.”

Published in Dawn, April 6th, 2016