State Bank of Pakistan Governor Dr Reza Baqir has said that the central bank, being mindful of rising gender gap in access and usage of financial services in Pakistan, has decided to launch a policy to reduce gender gap in financial inclusion.
Speaking with Queen Maxima of Netherlands, who is on a visit as the UN Secretary General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development, in Islamabad, he shared developments in the financial inclusion and roadmap with special focus on gender mainstreaming.
Dr Reza Baqir and Queen Maxima discussed how inclusive financial technology (FinTech) and digital finance represent a great opportunity to improve people’s financial lives, while noting it is important to consider and mitigate risks associated with it.
He highlighted the bank’s initiatives, commitment and achievements for increasing the financial inclusion under the National Financial Inclusion Strategy 2023. He shared impact development initiatives including gender mainstreaming in financial inclusion, creation of innovation office within the central bank, establishment of the micro payment gateway and regulatory framework for FinTechs.
The governor said that he presented the draft policy on gender mainstreaming to the visiting dignitary, which aims to introduce a gender lens within the financial sector through identified pillars and specific measures. He deliberated that the State Bank is exploring ways to encourage innovation for financial inclusion through FinTech by creating an innovation office at the bank.
QUEEN MAXIMA: Appreciating the UN envoy, for her efforts to promote financial inclusion globally invited her to share her views on both the bank’s initiatives of policy for reducing gender gap in financial inclusion and innovation office. Speaking on the occasion, Queen Maxima remarked that she is very happy to return to Pakistan and valued discussion with the State Bank on financial inclusion.
She appreciated progress with respect to financial inclusion while focusing on gender mainstreaming and digital financial services. She pointed out Pakistan is in good position for a boost in technology-enabled financial inclusion and that in the last five years, Pakistan’s start-up tech and FinTech ecosystems have made some notable progress with improving their supporting networks.
Queen Maxima mentioned it could be helpful to establish a pro-poor gateway for the wider acceptance of micropayment methods, introducing consumers to micropayments on a large scale. She was supportive of the steps taken by the central bank to create a micropayment gateway in 2020. However, she said that while resolving technical issues are important, it is more challenging to encourage people in engaging with digital modes of payment.
Adding further, she emphasized that in this regard inclusion of new players is important, whereby they should not only be competing but participating to expand the delivery of services as well. Finally, the governor and the UN envoy agreed to continue sharing ideas and follow up on agreed tasks for promoting financial inclusion.