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KARACHI: Speakers at an e-banking conference have ruled out the impression that financial technology firms would eat up conventional banks and asked them to collaborate with each other to deliver optimal banking services in Pakistan.

Habib Hanna, Managing Director, Diebold Nixdorf, Middle East and Africa (MEA) said that contrary to popular belief that conventional banks are closing their ‘physical branches’, recent developments have shown that banks are reshaping themselves for the changing digital world.

“They are not closing physical branches, but transforming from physical banking to digital banking,” he said while speaking at the 16th international e-banking conference organized by Total Communications in collaboration with 1Link here on Thursday.

According to Hanna, evidence suggests that not only are conventional banks transforming to digital but digital banks have also opened up ‘physical branches’ to provide better banking services worldwide.

“PayPal – global payment system – has acquired TIO Networks to increase its physical reach to the customers”, another global digital giant “ANT Financial – China’s leading online payment system entering Pakistan – has tried to acquire MoneyGram for $1 billion to strengthen its physical reach,” he said.

Tamer Kashef, VP, MEA Sales Excellence and Business Transformation, Mastercard Pakistan’s current progress towards e-banking is similar to where Russia was ten years ago.

However, he said that with continuous innovation they were able to revolutionize the Russian market and remain committed to transform Pakistan’s banking landscape as well. Less than 5 per cent banking customers were using e-banking services in Russia sometime around 2005. Now, close to 45pc have upgraded to the latest banking solutions, he said.

Najeeb Agrawalla, CEO, 1Link said millennials are the future customers of Pakistan’s banking industry. He said that owing to the reluctance of youngsters who are averse to visit ‘physical branches’, millennials are missing from the broader banking horizons. He urged digital bankers to design and offer products to cater youngsters.

“Digital DNA is fantastic in Pakistan,” said Omer Salimullah, Head of Open Banking and Ecosystem Development, JS Bank. He said this early adaption among millenials has set the stage for future banking which embodies ‘open banking/APIs banking’, which was also visible in success of allowing third party developers to offer personalized products to customers during last Pakistan Super League edition held in Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, August 10th, 2018