KARACHI: The Asaan Mobile Account (AMA) with its ease of use will be instrumental in bringing the next 50 million Pakistanis under the banking ambit, said State Bank of Pakistan Governor Dr Reza Baqir at the launch ceremony on Monday.
“The AMA will particularly help low-income segments with non-digital phones and no access to internet to enjoy financial services as accounts can now be opened simply by dialing a USSD [Unstructured Supplementary Service Data] code *2262# from any mobile phone (smart or simple feature phone) through any mobile network, without requiring internet connectivity,” Mr Baqir explained.
Customers will have the choice to choose from any of the 13 branchless banking service providers that are currently offering the AMA.
Customers can avail financial services by dialing *2262#
The SBP governor said that the AMA would play an important role in enhancing digital access and the use of formal financial services. “Pakistan has over 187 million biometrically verified mobile phone subscribers with teledensity of around 85 per cent. However, there are only 106 million 3G/4G subscribers with mobile internet penetration standing at 48pc,” he added.
“This gives us the potential market of around 81m mobile subscribers which don’t have access to the internet and could become users of AMA if provided with the right value proposition,” said the governor.
Moreover, AMA will be a highly suitable platform to onboard Pakistani women customer segments as well since they face greater obstacles in accessing formal financial services due to mobility, cultural and documentation issues, he added. This initiative is also in line with the government’s holistic approach of Digital Pakistan to enhance access and connectivity, digital infrastructure, and innovation. Now, the government will also have the option to use this channel for disbursing money under the flagship poverty alleviation Ehsaas Programme to reach 15 million beneficiaries.
The AMA allows the opening of a branchless banking account by dialing *2262# and the account holder can then deposit money in his or her account at any branchless banking agent and use the same for transactions through mobile phone. The AMA is an initiative of SBP to achieve the National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) target of promoting digital financial inclusion.
The AMA has been launched with the key support of various stakeholders including the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), National Data Registration Authority, branchless banking providers, cellular mobile operators and Virtual Remittance Gateway (VRG).
The VRG has been licensed jointly by the SBP and PTA under the regulations for mobile banking interoperability.
The ceremony also witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding among 13 branchless banking service providers.
Published in Dawn, December 14th, 2021