Mobile money, hungry for 3G technology

WITH THE information technology explosion throughout the world, Pakistan, too, is fast on the track towards progress in this field. Where the IT phenomena has revolutionized and changed dimensions of almost all sectors in Pakistan the banking sector is no exception. In addition to other banking services, the mobile money has emerged as another potential service area where the non-bank phone users can get benefit. There are several financial service areas having potential for market growth. Non-remittance payments provide the largest opportunities for m-money expansion. The data shoes, 94 per cent of surveyed households reported sending at least one payment in the past six months, with the government and utility companies receiving the largest number of those cash payments. Ten per cent of households reported receiving payments in the past six months, with the government serving as the sender of two-thirds of those payments in the form of salaries and/or benefits. The World Bank predicts that by 2020, mobile money could impact the lives of more than 2 billion people in developing countries, heralding a new era of financial services, and hence, lifting them out of poverty. The mobile phone penetration outnumbers the bank accounts penetration. The primary method for m-money use in Pakistan continues to be over-the-counter, in which all m-money transactions are facilitated by agents who use their own accounts while the registration of individual m-money accounts remains limited. In recent years, Telenor Easy paisa has resurfaced as the leading m-money provider in the country. Of the 14 households that reported a newly-registered account, 11 households registered an account with Telenor Easy paisa. The household mobile money market is dominated by Telenor Easy paisa with a 92 per cent share; the other three mobile money products share the rest of the market. Out of these 92 per cent households, 65 per cent are located in urban areas, and 80 per cent live below the poverty line. If all this progress and market potential is assessed, it vividly indicates that the country is fast moving towards the stage where having the 3G technology becomes a basic requirement. According to expert reports, the local IT and telecom sector still needs to be tapped in terms of expanding services across the country especially rural and unserved areas. The launch of the 3G technology would not only create job opportunities and trigger economic activities but also generate more revenue for the government. While on the other hand, the repeated delay in the auction of 3G licences has scared away especially the foreign investors who earlier were taking interest in this sector. The government needs to come up with a transparent auction process without any delay as the national economy has already bore the brunt of it.

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