SadaPay gets in-principle approval from SBP to launch e-money institution

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LAHORE: SadaPay has announced that it has been granted the in-principle approval by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) for an Electronic Money Institution (EMI) license.

This approval allows SadaPay to ready its operations for the pilot phase, during which the digital wallet will be available on a limited scale, under supervision of the regulator – the SBP.

Though an official launch date has not yet been disclosed, SadaPay says they will be in beta testing mode for the coming months to make sure all their systems are ready for an official launch later this year.

The startup is founded by American entrepreneur Brandon Timinsky, who ventured to Pakistan after his last startup in the US was acquired. Over the last year, Timinsky has assembled a team of banking veterans, liaised with the regulatory authorities, and built the foundation for a “digital first” financial institution in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s former finance secretary Dr Waqar Masood Khan has joined SadaPay as chairman of the board.

Pakistan is now the 5th most populous country in the world, with over 76 million 3G/4G subscribers and nearly 1 million new smartphones users coming online every month. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, internet adoption is only accelerating and more people turn to digital solutions for everyday payments. This presents a tremendous opportunity for SadaPay not only in Pakistan, but also a number of other regional markets that the team hopes to expand to.

“Sada” translates to “simple” in both Urdu and Arabic. SadaPay’s mission is to do away with the cost and complexities of traditional banking through their simplified digital-first experience. SadaPay offers a smartphone-based digital wallet accompanied by a free Mastercard debit card. As soon as a SadaPay account is activated, a virtual debit card is provisioned for immediate use. Also, users can perform free and instant transfers to any bank in Pakistan, and withdraw cash from all of the 14,500+ domestic ATMs with no fees (3x per month). Furthermore, users can also load their account with cash at any of 30,000+ retail locations across the country.

Speaking about the news on the approval, Brandon stated, “It’s really amazing to see how committed the State Bank of Pakistan is to adapt to changes in consumer behaviour and advances in technology. In the last few months alone, we’ve witnessed tremendous progress by SBP with the release of a number of new regulations that are certain to make an incredible impact on Pakistan’s economy by catalyzing the digitization of its financial system. We are also very grateful for the support we’ve received from the Bank of Punjab and Mastercard, which will certainly spur our journey towards rapidly expanding financial inclusion in the country”

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Waqar said, “The role the central bank is playing in laying the foundations of a broad-based and user-friendly digital payment system in Pakistan is laudable. These efforts have gained momentum since last July. Pakistan would soon be a leading country in digitizing its payment system and SadaPay would play a prominent role to achieve this goal.”

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