Branchless banking, financial inclusion and digitization to drive banking industry.

 
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Byline: Ahsan Nisar

The banking industry in Pakistan is growing leaps and bounds in almost all aspects. Presently, there are 45 banks with a network of 15,549 branches spread all across Pakistan hosting some 53.11 million accounts. Out of 45, eleven banks are defined as microfinance banks. Number of ATMs has also risen which is a good sign. The banking industry is offering a wide range of products and services which cater to almost all segments of the population.

However, the latest figures reveal that a lot needs to be done as only 26 percent of the total population is in the fold of financial inclusion. State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) is contributing much in this domain by launching new policies, programs, relaxations and regulations. But it is not the sole responsibility of SBP alone rather all 45 banks must come forward to take part in these ventures of national cause which will have far-reaching consequences on the soundness of financial health of both the people as well as our national economy.

For the last many years, SBP in collaboration with the government is striving for financial inclusion of the disadvantaged segments of the population and other vital sectors. It has assigned high priority status and has emphasized utmost importance to neglected sectors such as agriculture credit, microfinance, SMEs and low cost housing etc. Besides, it has also focused on green banking practices in line with global standards, to address the worldwide phenomenon of environmental degradation and threat to ecology.

As regards microfinance loans, the performance of MFBs is not up to the mark as they need to reach out to the rural population more effectively. The MFBs should come out of their comfort zones and provide access of their offerings to those who...

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