On Wednesday, April 12, more than 250 professionals from banking, telecom and fintech sector attended Digital Banking and Mobile Payments (DigiBAP) Summit 2017. The event was organised by TerraBiz in collaboration with PricewaterhouseCoopers Pakistan, at Movenpick Hotel Karachi.
Notable professionals from all the relevant fields were present at the event which was designed to discuss the future and current conditions of digital banking in Pakistan.
“Achievement of financial inclusion is the first and foremost goal of the government of Pakistan,” said Syed Irfan Ali, Executive Director Banking Policy and Regulations, State Bank of Pakistan in his address.
Names such as Atif Bajwa (CEO Bank Alfalah Limited), Sima Kamil (Deputy CEO United Bank Limited), Syed Ismail Shah (Chairman PTA), S M Shabbar Zaidi (Senior Partner A F Ferguson and Co.), Irfan Wahab Khan (CEO Telenor Pakistan) and Nadeem Hussain (Planet N Group of Companies) were among the dignitaries present at the event as panelists and speakers.
Renowned British fintech expert and author of the bestselling books Digital Bank and ValueWeb Chris Skinner was the keynote speaker for DigiBAP 2017. Executive Director Bitcoin Foundation Bruce Fenton also participated in the session via video link.
The event was divided into five categories in which panel discussions and speaking sessions were carried out on various topics, ranging from The Next 10 Years in Banking, Ingraining ‘Digital’ in Organisational DNA, War on Cash and Optimising Business Value Through Digital to name a few.
At the event, Managing Director Daraz Pakistan Zain Suharwardy, CEO 1LINK Limited Najeeb Agrawalla, and CEO FinJa Qasif Shahid also spoke about their platforms and the efforts their organisations are making towards creating a stronger digital space in the country.
“Anytime you take an analogue, physical experience and convert it into a digital, real-time and free experience, the human behaviour will change and consumption [of the service] will grow,” said Shahid on the importance of digitisation of everyday experiences which have altered the human behaviour over the years.
All the panellists and speakers emphasised on the need of digital banking and discussed the challenges Pakistan faces in order to achieve financial inclusion – the foremost being internet awareness and cyber security.
Syed Ismail Shah, Chairman PTA, in his address acknowledged that “the challenges we face today are more internet based than telecom based”. Shah, although indicated that the country is now on the right track after inauguration of 3G and 4G in the country which now has 39.9 million subscribers within three years of the arrival of the technology, there’s still a lot more to be achieved.
However, many analysts at the event stated that there is a long way for Pakistan to include Rs.3.3 trillion, out of bank cash, into the banking system. To further digitise the system, banking experts agreed that the mindset of traditional banks has to change and awareness and trust has to be created among the consumers.
“It’s no longer a survival of the fittest, in fact, it’s now survival of the fastest,” said Mudassar Aqil, CEO FINCA Microfinance Bank Limited.