Work in Progress: National Policy on E-Commerce

KARACHI –  The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and the Ministry of Commerce are developing a national policy on e-commerce to attract foreign investment for establishing a desired digital market in the country.

SBP Governor, Ashraf Mahmood Wathra, speaking at an industry event earlier this week said:

“The policy shall support and work towards building desired ecosystem for e-commerce market and also to encourage local trade and foreign investments in the country”

He went on to add:

“The central bank was aware that the high cost on e-payment was due to risk associated with online payments, but we are also mindful that new mechanism for proactive fraud detection are being developed to safeguard the merchants, consumers and their banks from losses.”

The Governor urged banks and payment schemes to work in cooperation to further boost mobile and e-commerce in Pakistan, by rationalizing the cost of transactions.

He said the central bank has allowed the entry of non-banks – Payment System Operators and Service Providers (PSO/PSPs) – into the domain of payment services through intensive regulations in 2014. However, their effectiveness remains yet to be seen, he said.

He noted that the number of m-wallet accounts stood at more than 16 million in the country. However, majority of these wallets were still inactive. Even though, branchless banking industry has seen acceleration and basic financial services can now be accessed in remotest parts of the country through agent network of around 350,000, he added. “A total of 110 million transactions worth around Rs520 billion were carried out during quarter of July-September 2016,” he said.