The State Bank of Pakistan has set out a new, digital-focused, national payment systems strategy designed to boost financial inclusion, particularity for women.
Cash still dominates Pakistan's economy, with most wages paid in paper money and merchants largely unable to accept digital payments. Just 21% of adults have a transaction account and of these only seven per cent are women.
With such a low base, the central bank claims that migration to electronic payments will stimulate consumption and trade, boosting Pakistan's economy by as much as seven per cent and creating four million jobs by 2025.
Governor Reza Baqir says the bank will strengthen the country's legal and regulatory framework to bring it in line with international best practices, laying the groundwork for a "modern and robust digital payments network".
Rules are already in place for the digital onboarding of merchants to encourage acceptance of non-cash payments, while the central bank is also developing a faster payments system. The government will continue to move towards electronic payments, possibly creating a shared platform for all disbursements and collections.
The strategy has been praised by World Bank president David Malpass, who adds that the SBP must be joined by other stakeholders in the drive for digital financial services.