What comes first – a bank account or enough money to put in that bank account? This one problem seems to have confused decision makers at Pakistan’s central bank, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), which has almost always exhibited this tendency that we need more bank accounts than money in those accounts. Somehow, increasing only the number of bank accounts is going to help increase financial inclusion – particularly for women. But in this one instance, it does not.
On the eve of Women’s day this year, the central bank unveiled a new type of account, the Asaan Digital Account (ADA) in an elegant ceremony. The ceremony, which was held at Karachi’s Pearl Continental Hotel, was attended by leaders from the banking industry, officials from the State Bank including Governor Reza Baqir and Deputy Governor Sima Kamil. At the event, the Asaan Digital Account was dubbed as a banking account that would break barriers for women’s entry into the formal financial system. This is not the first time a new type of account with a focus on financial inclusion. The State Bank has in the past introduced the Asaan Account for the unbanked and the Asaan Mobile Account for the same purpose. The Asaan Digital Account is one in the series of State Bank’s initiatives to ease the process of account opening for the unbanked, especially women.
The Asaan Digital Account was launched on Women’s Day. The central bank’s press statement on the launch said that it will break barriers for women’s financial inclusion. However, the Governor SBP, Reza Baqir said that the accounts are not just for women and will help boost financial inclusion across genders. The SBP spokesperson, Abid Qamar, in a comment to Profit, said that the central bank may explore the segmentation of Asaan Digital Account based on gender and other possible dimensions.