Pakistan’s e-commerce market size up Rs25bn YoY in Q1FY21

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s e-commerce market size has increased to Rs96 billion in the first quarter of financial year 2021 as compared to Rs71 billion in 1QFY20.

This was informed during the 4th meeting of the National e-Commerce Council (NeCC), chaired by Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce Razak Dawood on Thursday.

NeCC is a body of representatives from the public and private sector, constituted under the National e-Commerce Policy approved by the Federal Cabinet in October 2019. 

According to officials, the NeCC discussed operationalization of cross border e-commerce procedures, incentives to promote e-commerce, ways to introduce international payment services, besides deliberations on mercantile stock exchange, digital on-boarding services, reports of consultative committee on Women Economic Empowerment (WEE), e-commerce business facilitation portal, consumer protection councils, availability of broadband to remote areas, Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP)’s digital transformation process and collaboration with Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA) on e-commerce related matters.

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The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) on the occasion informed the meeting on the legal framework updates, including e-commerce rules regarding mechanism of imports goods clearance, return of goods policy and WEBOC e-commerce module. It also informed that the National Taxation Council (NTC) is working on harmonization of the taxation regime in all provinces and federation.

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) also gave a thorough presentation on its efforts to promote cross-border e-commerce. The National Institutional Facilitation Technologies (NIFT) informed the meeting that it is in the process of developing a payment solution for cross border/international payments in collaboration with the SBP through which people residing outside Pakistan will be able to pay through Paypal, Google Pay and Apple Pay while payments within/from Pakistan will be processed by integration with any international payment provider. Payment system will be facilitated by the involvement of a third party.

NIFT said the payment facility was to become functional by the end of 2020, but multi-party engagement with the effect of Covid affected the plan badly. However, they are working on it and will update as soon as they are ready to take it to SBP. Assistance from SBP will come in once they put in the complete details for their review. The pilot run is now expected in the second quarter of 2021.

Meanwhile, the sub-committee on financial inclusion & digitization shared its progress of conducting three webinars for freelancers; mobile wallet & account-based solutions; and card-based payments in collaboration with MOC. It informed that it was in the process of issuing white paper on the suggestions received for further deliberation. NeCC was also briefed on matters relating to the Consultative Committee on Women Economic Empowerment (WEE).

TDAP shared its updates regarding Trade Facilitation Portal, collaboration between TDAP and SMEDA and TDAP’s B2B portal.

Moreover, Bank Al-Falah briefed the meeting about its new initiative “Alfa Payment Gateway for online Payments” through which anyone can collect payments online from anywhere in Pakistan. 

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Ghulam Abbas
The writer is a member of the staff at the Islamabad Bureau. He can be reached at [email protected]

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