Branchless banking is gaining recognition in Pakistan with the opening of its first all-digital bank branch, Standard Chartered Pakistan, in Karachi. The bank has staff available for loan or mortgage transactions, but customers will be able to conduct most of their financial operations without requiring any assistance from bank officials.
At the opening ceremony, Mr. Ashraf Mahmood Wathra, Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan declared Pakistan’s branchless banking policy and business initiatives are garnering global recognition.
“Pakistan, today, is one of the largest potential branchless banking growth markets in the world, and is ranked among the top three, along with Brazil and Kenya.”, he said.
At the newly christened bank, people will find a state-of-the-art iDesk, allowing secure access to financial information, and use of a suite of banking products. The branch also boasts an ATM, where all cash transactions will take place, and machines with direct access to local utility companies, and city and district government offices. There are touchscreen tabletops and wall displays where customers can educate themselves on how to use the various machines.
Pakistan is experiencing double digit growth in its ATM network and in the number of people using plastic for their financial needs. This indicates a growing trust of digital banking in the country.
Standard Chartered Pakistan’s move toward branchless banking will provide benefits by reducing the cost of bank branches and freeing up resources for marketing, sales, and other ways to meet the needs of its clients.
Bank customers gain secure access to a variety of financial platforms and a streamlined banking experience. For example, a staff from a branchless bank can go directly to a client, scan necessary documents and obtain digital signatures, thus providing greater convenience for the customer.
Traditional banks simply cannot exist in huge numbers in a country like Pakistan, where the population is spread across vast swathes of land. Therefore, e-banking and digital financial services are emerging as the driving force behind the financial services expansion to every corner of the country, and to advance the goal of Pakistan’s inclusion in global financial affairs.