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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Digital payments flourish in Pakistan

In the race to avoid all physical contact possible, companies worldwide are working to promote social distancing. Pakistani companies have hopped on board with their new strategy to enable easier online transactions.

In light of the recent coronavirus outbreak, several companies have selflessly promoted online payments. Banks enabled this by waiving their charges from internet, mobile and ATM transactions to ensure the safety of their customers and employees during the outbreak.

Essentially, these digital payments have received a big push; people are reducing the use of banknotes out of fear of contracting the virus. Pakistan’s e-commerce index shows an increase in digital payments and a rise in demand for online shopping during the lockdown.

Daraz’ e-commerce index

Recently, Daraz launched Pakistan’s first e-commerce index at an online event, hosted by Daraz, showing an increase in digital payments and growing demand for online shopping. Federal Secretary for IT and Telecommunication Shoaib Siddiqui attended the event.

The purpose of the index is two-fold. Firstly, to provide insight about consumer behavior online amid the coronavirus pandemic; and secondly, to also help stakeholders linked with the e-commerce industry, understand the online shopper.

Data on the platform showed that digital payments in the country started picking up in 2019. On Daraz, digital payments contributed 32% of the total consumer spending and the use of e-wallets increased 8.2 times in a year.

According to the index, changes were witnessed in consumer demand almost reflectively; that is, during the second and third weeks of March 2020, following the outbreak of coronavirus in Pakistan. During this time, sales of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) doubled on Daraz. In fact, they were expected to rise further to 70% of total sales on the platform in the coming weeks.

Pakistan’s banks are promoting online banking

Pakistan’s economy still majorly relies on cash. Hence, collecting reliable data on the growth of e-commerce sector has largely remained a challenge.

Read more: JS Bank becomes the first bank to promote social distancing!

According to JS Bank Head of Digital Banking, Noman Azhar, payments through the JS wallet rose from 10 to 12% since the government and SBP encouraged the use of digital transactions amid the lockdown. “Traffic from branches has shifted to the JS wallet,” he said.

Carrefour Pakistan Country Manager Jean Marc Dumont pointed out that as a result of rising public health and safety concerns, a majority of Carrefour customers are now forced to adopt a cautious shopping behavior.

“Conventional shoppers now prefer making payments through debit or credit cards rather in cash,” he said. “This has also augmented cashless transactions at all stores and online orders increased in March,” he said.

“During this period of uncertainty, we have witnessed a shift in customer behavior with demand for essential products growing rapidly, which is a strong indication that e-commerce can serve as a solution,” he remarked.

Digital payments are not only a great alternative to cash, but they also provide new opportunities to users such as digital credit, insurance and savings

Telenor Microfinance Bank’s President and CEO Mudassar Aqil encouraged the public to adopt digital finance during the current crisis.

“Digital payments are not only a great alternative to cash, but they also provide new opportunities to users such as digital credit, insurance and savings,” he said. “It’s time to turn this hardship into opportunity and adopt digital payments by opening a mobile wallet account.”

An influx of online shopping companies in Pakistani market will appear soon. If so, this will help to reduce prices for the benefit of consumers and further prevent the spread of coronavirus.