Merchant digitization emerges as one key driver for Pakistan’s inclusive economic growth in UN report.

Pakistan (Muhammad Yasir)

A big opportunity for Pakistan resides in ushering its micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) into the digital age, as revealed in a new report by the United Nations-based Better Than Cash Alliance, in support of its member, the Government of Pakistan, and the State Bank of Pakistan.

The fates of small businesses and national economies are intertwined. If one thrives, so does the other. Pakistan’s MSMEs account for 90% of enterprise in the country and nearly half of GDP. Their growth remains perpetually hamstrung by a dependence on cash. This tether to cash means that transactions – and horizons – are inevitably limited.

The adoption of responsible digital payments for merchants, with their proven ability to boost women’s economic participation and deliver the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, represents a tremendous pocket of potential growth. Digital payments can be a pathway to solve some of the major economic challenges the country faces.

Digitizing responsibly boosts financial inclusion and future-proofs enterprises, ensures equitable access to formal financial services, improves workflows, reduces operational costs and mitigates against mobility constraints, especially for women entrepreneurs. Designing digital payments, based on female customer needs, represents a market opportunity of over USD $ 650 million nationally.

“We commend the State Bank of Pakistan for its bold leadership in driving responsible payment digitization for merchants, especially women merchants. Across Asia, digitizing merchant payments has led to rapid MSME growth and, as businesses grow, so do economies. We agree – now is the time to accelerate financial equality for women merchants in Pakistan, and look forward to our continued partnership.” said Dr. Ruth Goodwin-Groen, Managing Director of the UN-based Better Than Cash Alliance

The report indicates that the national adoption of digital payments by 2025 in Pakistan can boost GDP by 7 percent, generate four million jobs and realize an additional USD 263 billion in deposits, as defined by the National Payments System Strategy.

The report also advises active engagement by all key public and private sector actors to work towards building trust in digital payments, make them affordable for MSMEs, incentivize adoption through measures like lower sales rate tax, alongside other key recommendations.

(BOP) launches Merchant Acquiring Business

The Bank of Punjab (BOP) launches Merchant Acquiring Business with the industry first buy now pay later (BNPL) and pay by link solution.

Lahore (Muhammad Yasir)

The Bank of Punjab (BOP), recognized as one of the nation’s premier commercial banks, has embarked on a pioneering journey by unveiling its cutting-edge Point of Sale (POS) payment solutions and online payment gateway services. BOP is the 7th Bank offering this service out of the total of 41 commercial and specialized banks in the country. This strategic move reinforces BOP’s commitment to enriching its digital retail offerings and expediting the evolution of the nation’s digital ecosystem. In pursuit of this ambitious endeavor, the Bank of Punjab (BOP) has forged a strategic alliance with PayNet Private Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Omega IT Solutions United Arab Emirates renowned for its expertise in Digital Payment business solutions. This collaboration signifies a pivotal milestone in BOP’s mission to introduce Point-of-Sale (POS) payment services to the market, with plans to expand its reach through additional Independent Sales Organizations (ISOs) for comprehensive nationwide coverage.

The Bank will act as a link between merchants, issuers and payment networks by offering them state-of-the-art POS machines and make cashless transactions available over the counters, enabling retailers to benefit from the adoption of digital payments. The POS machines support acceptance of all types of cards. To commemorate this momentous occasion, a ceremony was held at a prominent local hotel in Lahore. The event served as a platform to recognize the invaluable contributions of key individuals who played pivotal roles in this project. Dignitaries present at the ceremony included Mr. Zafar Masud, President & CEO of BOP, and other esteemed members of the senior management team. Speaking on this occasion, Mr. Zafar Masud remarked, “The Bank of Punjab is diligently spearheading the modernization of retail services within the country by enhancing our digital offerings and promoting economic documentation.

We are already committed to providing top-notch services to SMEs, corporate entities, and government sectors. With the launch of our Merchant Acquiring business, we aim to fortify these strategic partnerships, empowering BOP to deliver innovative and industry-leading payment solutions to customers nationwide.” As the Bank of Punjab embraces the future with its Merchant Acquiring Business, it underscores its dedication to fostering a digitally advanced and financially inclusive landscape in Pakistan.

The bank’s unwavering commitment to excellence and innovation promises a brighter and more accessible future for all.