Building Digital Societies in Asia: Making Commerce Smarter

Opportunities for Pakistan to develop digital payments and access to marketplaces

Digital commerce refers to everything that facilitates a commerce activity digitally, including access to marketplaces, services and payments replacing physical cash. This report discusses the development of digital payments, in particular mobile money, and how it can enable digital commerce. It focuses on the opportunity that this solution can bring to the people of Pakistan and the key roles that stakeholders can play in realizing the full potential of digital commerce.

Pakistan remains a largely underserved market in terms of digital access and digital payment. With a unique mobile subscriber penetration of 31%, mobile broadband penetration of 5%, and bank/mobile money account penetration among adults of 13%, Pakistan still has a lot of room for growth. The award of 3G licences and growth of branchless banking services are signs of improvement. To harness the full potential of digital commerce in Pakistan, mobile operators have a crucial role to play across digital commerce, digital access and digital payments. 

The transition to a digital economy is fraught with many challenges. These include socio-political barriers such as weak legal and regulatory frameworks, digital illiteracy, and lack of awareness of what digital commerce is and how to access it. A successful environment requires collaboration between all stakeholders involved: government and regulators, mobile operators, financial institutions and fintechs. 

About this Publication

By Arese Lucini, B. , Hasnain, S.