With a rapidly growing e-commerce industry, it has become imperative for Pakistan to devise a policy to regulate it. It is recently reported that the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and the Ministry of Commerce are going to draft a national policy to promote e-commerce in the country.
The Governor of SBP Ashraf Mahmood Wathra, while speaking at the 10th Jazzcash International Mobile Conference said that the new policy will “support and work towards building desired ecosystem for e-commerce market and also to encourage local trade and foreign investments in the country.”
Moreover, Wathra pointed out that the SBP is aware of the general apprehensions about online transactions and has been working on eliminating problems associated with it.
“We are aware that the high cost of e-payment is due to the risk associated with online payments, but we are also mindful that a new mechanism for proactive fraud detection is being developed to safeguard merchants, consumers and banks from losses,” he said.
Wathra at the event clarified that with regulations in 2014, non-banks payment system operators were allowed to enter in the market, but so far they have not been proven very effective.
The governor stressed that the increase in number of m-wallets cannot provide a true picture of the e-commerce industry. “The number of m-wallet accounts stood at more than 16 million. But a majority of these wallets are still inactive. Nevertheless, branchless banking has seen acceleration in the past few years and basic financial services can now be accessed in the remotest parts of Pakistan through an agent network of around 350,000,” he added.
Telenor Microfinance Bank’s President and CEO, Ali Riaz Chaudhry, said that the industry players should consider working together in order to fight poverty and achieve the financial inclusion goals. Moreover, FINCA Microfinance Bank’s CEO Mudassar Aqil suggested that the central bank should also consider removing charges on e-payments, which will help in achieving the financial inclusion objectives.
The move indicates that the concerned authorities have finally started to realize the potential of e-commerce sector.