Karandaaz Pakistan held a webinar to share the findings of the recently concluded survey on the impact of COVID-19 on financial behavior in Pakistan. This survey was designed and conducted in partnership with Kantar and is preceded by six waves of the Financial Inclusion Insights (FII) Survey. The FII survey is a nationally representative survey gauging financial inclusion and access to and use of mobile money and other digital financial service in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Tanzania and Uganda. In Pakistan, the last FII survey was implemented prior to the COVID-associated lockdown in March 2020. Subsequently, this survey was conducted from October 20 to December 30, 2020 to measure changes in financial inclusion compared to the FII Wave 6 survey implemented earlier in the year. Survey findings on the impact of COVID-19 on financial behavior show that while financial inclusion in Pakistan increased from 21% of adults pre-pandemic to 25% in late 2020, the change was driven entirely by mobile money adoption. Mobile money account ownership by registered users increased from 9% of adults before COVID-19 to 16% in late 2020. The pandemic had no significant effect on bank account ownership compared to before COVID-19. Most significantly, the pandemic caused the gender gap to narrow in 2020. While the gender gap remains an enormous barrier to financial inclusion and economic empowerment, the financial inclusion of women increased from 6 – 11%, which is a major occurrence considering the number hovered between 5-6% in multiple previous waves of the FII Survey. The webinar was attended by Mr. Sohail Javvad, Director, Payment Systems Department (PSD), State Bank of Pakistan (SBP); Mr. Salim Raza, Member Karandaaz Board of Governors and former Governor of SBP; and Mr. Waqas ul Hasan, CEO Karandaaz Pakistan.
Mr. Sohail Javaad, Director PSD at SBP said, “With the recent launches of Roshan Digital Accounts and Raast – Pakistan’s instant digital payment system, and the recent release of the exposure draft of digital bank regulatory framework, the State Bank of Pakistan has been taking monumental strides to put in place a digital financial ecosystem at the national level. These groundbreaking initiatives are not only helping us consistently register progress against our National Financial Inclusion Strategy goals but have also helped alleviate the extraordinary challenges posed by the pandemic. We really appreciate the knowledge that Karandaaz has shared as it will help us better map our future short and long term strategies for further advancements in this direction.”
Mr. Salim Raza, former Governor of SBP and Member Board of Director at Karandaaz, while speaking at the webinar shared, “Karandaaz has a strong focus on supporting digital financial services as a means to reach those who otherwise remain excluded from the formal financial system, such as women. This research has shown us that mobile money account ownership tripled among women, from 2% before the pandemic to 6% in late 2020. This is a very significant increase and proves that technology-based solutions must be a focus for all stakeholders if we really want to make a meaningful impact on our national financial inclusion indicators.”
Mr. Waqas ul Hasan, CEO Karandaaz speaking at the webinar, said, “Through this survey it is evident that the COVID-19 crisis has brought about a substantial shift towards digital financial services – it is an opportunity in a crisis that must be tapped. With enabling regulatory framework and institutional architecture in place, the financial industry can introduce products. The digitalization of financial services for both individuals and businesses can help overcome barriers such as costs and lack of access and open up new markets and livelihood opportunities.” During the webinar a comprehensive presentation on the findings of the survey was made by Dr. Samuel Schueth, Research Director at Kantar. This was followed by a panel discussion to deliberate on the stickiness of the growth observed in the uptake of digital financial services since the start of pandemic in 2020, implications for the financial inclusion of women, and the importance of demand side data. The webinar was moderated by Ms. Mehr Shah, Director Knowledge Management and Communication Karandaaz and Mr. Ali Akbar Ghanghro, Manager Knowledge Management at Karandaaz. The panelists included Saad Farooq, Senior Advocacy Manager GSMA; Ms. Amna Awan, Gender Advisor Karandaaz; Yahya Khan, Head of Digital at Bank Alfalah Ltd.; Imran Khan, an independent expert on financial inclusion; and Rehan Akhtar, Chief Digital Officer at Karandaaz. Data from all six FII surveys is reflected in Karandaaz Data Portal at: https://portal.karandaaz.com.pk/