ISLAMABAD    -    To commemorate the “AZAADI of the AAM AADMI (common citizen)”, a ceremony was held on 21st August to introduce the des­tiny-changing financial inclusion scheme “Asaan Mobile Account” (AMA), as a tribute to Pakistan’s 75th independence day.

The event was moderated by Dr Huma Baqai, Rector MITE. It was well attended by eminent bankers, corporate leaders, regu­lators, social sector scholars and key opinion leaders. Dr Baqai stated that digital technologies are impacting the way firms do business through digital transfor­mation leading to documentation of economy since the majority of the people (the “Aam Aadmi”) do not have access to bank accounts. She praised Ikram Sehgal and his family for their tireless efforts to truly unleash the economic potential of the unbanked. She called the AMA a destiny-changer. Co Chairman of Pathfinder Group and VRG Zarrar Sehgal stated that without financial independence the concept of “Financial Inclu­sion” is incomplete, especially for the women. As 80-85% of the population have a mobile, this led to the idea of how Virtual Remit­tance Gateway (VRG) could work for AAM AADMI’s financial free­dom by offering Mobile Financial Services (MFS) based on state-of-the-art technology, thus giving “Hope” for real economic growth.

Salman Ali, CEO VRG, provided the details about the pain-staking efforts made over the last nine years with the objective to bring unbanked population to formal banking services. Through the joint efforts of SBP and PTA, AMA is available to all low income un­banked/under-banked people who face difficulties in opening accounts but also undertaking transactions. Presently 32% ac­counts are of women, compared with 18% for other banking chan­nels, this is very encouraging.AMA has to explore new avenues such as instant credit, micro retail payments/insurance, etc. Greater outreach is needed through in­creased touch points, this may be achieved through the concept of agent interoperability.

Maj Gen (r) Amir Azeem Bajwa, Chairman PTA, in his video mes­sage was delighted to note that AMA scheme jointly sponsored and licensed by PTA and SBP will revolutionize the mobile banking landscape as the present finan­cial inclusion is quite low result­ing in limited use of financial services other than payments. AMA is a unique scheme to bring together all cellular mobile op­erators and financial institutions onto one platform to allow mo­bile banking. In future, this digi­tal ecosystem can be enhanced with active participation of Fin-techs, AMA scheme will play a pivotal role for the unbanked and women’s economic empower­ment as it provides accessibility to over 195 million verified sub­scribers. AMA has been designed for its ease of use, swiftness, security and cost effectiveness with complete interoperability between institutions and opera­tors, thus achieving the objective of Financial Inclusion.