CGAP’s partners Tameer and Telenor deliberately decided to take a two phase approach in the roll out of EasyPaisa.
They gave agents the mobile phone first and trained them to process OTC transactions, so that they would become comfortable with the service.
EasyPaisa Turns One: Easypaisa has successfully completed one year of operations. The service, which was launched jointly by Telenor Pakistan and Tameer Microfinance Bank last year, has helped provide people across Pakistan with access to convenient financial services.
A Uniquely Convenient Way of Financial Transactions: Roar Bjærum, Vice President Financial Services, Telenor Pakistan while commenting on easypaisa’s one year of completion said: “Easypaisa is a uniquely convenient way for everyone to carry out financial transactions such as money transfer and bill payments. More than six million transactions worth Rs10 billion have been moved through the system in this one year, with a million transactions worth nearly Rs2 billion moved in the last month alone. These numbers reflect our customers’ increased trust in the services. Our aim is to continue to change the way financial transactions are carried out in Pakistan, and to develop a portfolio of easypaisa services that meet different customer needs.”
Bank Account without a Physical Bank: Ali Abbas Sikander, Group Executive Director Technology & Operations, Tameer Microfinance Bank, speaking about the milestone said: “In Pakistan, there are currently an estimated 30 million economically active people who have no access to basic transactional services, let alone savings and other financial safety net solutions. Now, with easypaisa, these people can have a bank account without a physical bank branch and can conduct financial transactions from the comfort of the home using just a basic cell phone. All transactions are transparent, regulated by the State Bank of Pakistan, and are accounted for towards the country’s economy.”
EasyPaisa – Spreading its Services: The service, when it was launched a year ago, was available at 2,200 outlets. Currently, easypaisa services are available at more than 11,000 outlets in 700 urban and rural areas across Pakistan. The spread is even greater than the number of bank branches in Pakistan which is 8,000.
Mobile Banking Without Mobile Phone: The customer didn’t need to have a phone mobile at all to transact at the agent, but they would get an SMS receipt if they did. Six months later they launched the mobile wallet which allowed customers with a Telenor mobile phone to have their own account hosted on their personal mobile phone. But one year after launch the OTC service has been such a huge success that it accounts for the vast majority of transactions and revenues.
EasyPaisa – Mobile Wallet: Allowing OTC transactions might be a useful way of building customer trust in a system and in the long-run help to increase the woefully low activation rates that many MNOs are experiencing. OTC services could also provide an additional revenue stream. And thirdly, the fact that any customer can use the service makes it de-facto “interoperable” and of more interest for the disbursement of large scale payments such as salaries, government payments or international remittances. For example, the Government of Pakistan is actively exploring whether the agent networks of EasyPaisa could be used to distribute government payments to the very poorest members of the population – who are very unlikely to have their own mobile phone. Some mobile banking purists might question whether providing the ability to conduct OTC services really constitutes financial services or even see this as a step backwards, reducing the incentives for customers to open their own mobile account. But in their rush to roll out mobile banking services to their existing customers, MNOs may have missed an opportunity to leverage their air-time distribution networks to provide a form of very basic financial services to the population – which could act as a stepping stone to the provision of a mobile wallet – not to mention providing additional revenues to both their agents and their own bottom line.