SBP sees significant growth in online transactions during July-Sept quarter

KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan on Thursday released its Quarterly Payment System Review (QPSR) report for the first quarter (July-September) of the current fiscal year (2020-21), depicting a strong growth in digital financial transactions across the country.

According to the report, digital payment transactions in Pakistan increased significantly during Q1FY21, largely due to facilitative measures taken by SBP. Growth in digital payment infrastructure as well as emergence of new payment aggregators also contributed to this growth.

Moreover, the increase reflected the changes in consumer’s preference for digital transactions amid Covid-19 outbreak.

As per the report, as many as 253.7 million e-banking transactions (Rs19 trillion) were made by customers during the period under review.

E-banking transactions comprise real-time online branches (RTOBs) transactions, ATM transactions, internet banking transactions, mobile phone banking transactions, e-commerce, point of sale, and call center/IVR banking. Although RTOB transactions had a major share of e-banking transactions in terms of value, about 80pc, other types of transactions remained more than 83pc of the e-banking transactions in terms of volume.

During Q1FY21, the most promising uptake was seen in internet banking and mobile banking transactions, as the number of registered mobile phone banking users reached 8.9 million (+41pc YoY) while the number of internet users touched 4.3 million (+26pc YoY). Accordingly, mobile banking transactions increased to 36.4 million, amounting to Rs908.7 billion (+139pc YoY in volume and +211pc YoY in value). Similarly, internet banking transactions increased to 18.9 million, amounting to Rs1.1 trillion during Q1FY21 (+55pc YoY in volume and +89pc YoY in value).

Another major avenue of e-banking transactions was through Point of Sale (POS), whereby people make transactions using credit or debit cards typically for shopping at markets. The number of transactions through POS machines that had declined sharply during Q3 and Q4 of FY20, owing to the closure of markets amid Covid19, recovered significantly in Q1FY21.

The number of transactions through POS were recorded at 16.8 million, amounting to Rs92.3 billion (+47pc in volume and +49pc YoY in value when compared with Q4FY20).

In addition to POS-based transactions, card-based transactions on e-commerce portals also followed a similar trend – a fall during Q3 and Q4 of FY20 due to Covid19 related decline in economic activity, and a recovery in Q1FY21. Such transactions were recorded at 3.9 million, amounting to Rs11.9 billion (+70pc YoY in volume and 27pc in value over Q4FY20).

Another reason behind this growth was the increase in the number of e-commerce transactions and their value, which grew by 77pc and 47pc, respectively, when compared with Q1FY20.

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