To commemorate the ‘Azaadi of the Aam Aadmi (Common citizen)’ a aceremony was held yesterday to introduce the destiny-changing financial inclusion scheme ‘Asaan Mobile Account’ (AMA), as a tribute to Pakistan’s 75th independence day.
Moderated by Dr Huma Baqai, Rector MITE, it was well attended by eminent bankers, corporate leaders, regulators, social sector scholars and key opinion leaders. Dr Baqai stated that digital technologies are impacting the way firms do business through digital transformation leading to documentation of economy since the majority of the people (‘Aam Aadmi’) do not have access to bank accounts. She praised Ikram Sehgal and his family for their tireless efforts to truly unleash the economic potential of the unbanked. She called the AMA a destiny-changer.
Co-Chairman of Pathfinder Group Zarrar Sehgal stated that without financial independence the concept of “Financial Inclusion” is incomplete, especially for the women. As 80-85% of the population have a mobile, this led to the idea of how Virtual Remittance Gateway (VRG) could work for Aam Aadmi’s financial freedom by offering Mobile Financial Services (MFS) based on state-of-the-art technology, thus giving “Hope”for real economic growth.
Maj-Gen (Retd) Amir Azeem Bajwa, Chairman PTA, in his video message was delighted to note that AMA scheme jointly sponsored and licensed by PTA and SBP will revolutionize the mobile banking landscape as the present Financial Inclusion is quite low resulting in limited use of financial services other than payments. AMA is a unique scheme to bring together all cellular mobile operators and financial institutions onto one platform to allow mobile banking.
In his video message Mr Shazad Dada, CEO and President UBL, spoke about the challenges due to lack of documentation, internet, and smart phones, he said AMA is the solution. The close collaboration of the stakeholders has made it a success as show-cased by the accounts registered, UBL was proud to be part of this scheme. AMA will help Pakistan achieve the goals of Financial Inclusion and he encouraged all citizens to be part of the AMA family by opening an account right now.
Mr. Kabeer Naqvi, CEO and President UBank, appreciated the remarkable efforts of VRG. After one-and-a-half decade, the customer centric Many-to-Many model on USSD technology is the railroad paving the way for financial inclusion and is here to stay. Mr Ali Naseer, Chief Business Officer Jazz, stated that the regulators especially SBP has been very supportive over last few years to take the digital agenda forward especially SBP’s RAAST and AMA Scheme are cases in point. Jazz has always been a partner since inception and encouraged all new developments that have been carried out in perfecting the platform. Presently Jazz Cash is the largest contributor of accounts registered on the VRG platform. He added that RAAST is a great initiative and AMA scheme is a step in the right direction.
Ms Sima Kamil, Deputy Governor SBP, congratulated the landmark event to support the National Financial Inclusion Scheme (NFIS). However around 10% of total accounts opened have less than one transaction over last one year, and only one-third of the women population have a bank account which shows potential for future growth.
In his concluding remarks Ikram Sehgal,Chairman Pathfinder Group and VRG thanked all the stakeholders of the AMA Scheme whose efforts have culminated into today’s event. He said he never does business with the govt but SBP and PTA’s executives were a pleasant surprise.
The Sehgal family’s vision of providing “hope” for the Aam Aadmi to be able to have a bank account is truly a game-changer for financial independence for the poor forgotten common person in Pakistan. It has been recognized globally by World Economic Forum, Queen Maxima of Netherlands in her remarks in the WEF Annual Meeting in Davos this year, it has led to Pakistan’s nomination in the Lighthouse Countries program under the WEF EDISON Alliance.