The State Bank of Pakistan has, quite recently, launched Pakistan’s first-ever digital payment system that is being deemed as ‘Raast’. The initiative aims to be a game-changer for the country’s economy by bringing every transaction to a unified platform. Its ability to record those transactions would also help the authorities keep a track.
Keeping a track of your finances can get tricky, especially in a country where everyone depends highly on cash transactions. Similar to Roshan Digital Account, Raast is a digital payment system which is launched under the flagship of Digital Vision Pakistan. The programme aims to create a secure gateway for online payments.
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What are Digital Financial Services?
Digital Financial Services (DFS) is a digital platform where we can find solutions to all cash-related issues. It is an intangible platform where we can conduct business deals without any hassle.
There are a few private digital financial ventures [like JazzCash and EasyPaisa] in Pakistan. However, they aren’t widely used by people due to lack of awareness and comprehension.
Reasons for Delays in Digital Payment System
Pakistan is one of the very few countries, which has not been able to digitise its cash solutions until now. There are a few reasons why instant digital payment systems are not widely used. We have picked the most important ones and discussed them below:
- Limited inoperability: Most banks don’t have a central platform for collaboration, so it gets difficult for them to integrate online payment systems.
- High Cost for users: Private institutions providing digital solutions charge a lot. It is mainly the reason why a great fraction of Pakistan’s population is not able to access these solutions.
- Security Issues: The companies offering such solutions do not guarantee the security of your data.
- Lack of Knowledge and Skills: Implementation of digital financial services require knowledge and skills, which is the biggest reason why online systems are not widely used in Pakistan.
Raast for Cashless Economy
Announced in 2019, the new digital payment system is called Raast – which means direct or straight. Raast aims to convert , if not all, a massive fraction of Pakistan’s population, their cash transitions into online payments.
The project is a result of collaboration between these institutions with Britain and the United States backing the project:
- State Bank of Pakistan (SBP)
- Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
- World Bank
Although the central digital infrastructure was absent in Pakistan, some digital payment products or methods that are already functional in the country are:
- Mobile wallets
- Internet banking
- Mobile banking
The project is divided into three phases for seamless execution. As per the officials, the project will be completed in early 2022. Here are the details of all three phases:
- 1st Step: Shareholders will instantly receive their share of dividends from the listed companies.
- 2nd Step: Wages and Pensions earned by the employees of the Government Pakistan will be digitised.
- 3rd Step: Bridge the gap between the government bodies and the financial institutions such as banks.
Benefits of Pakistan’ Instant Payment System
Under the policy framework of Digital Pakistan Vision, the digital financial service, Raast will bring us closer to the cashless economy.
- Affordable and easy access to anyone seeking financial services
- Connect users living in remote areas
- Link government bodies and financial institutes
- With the record of every transactions, the chances of tax evasion and corruption would be minimal
- Women Empowerment and inclusion in the economy, with Pakistan’s first instant payment system women can conduct business remotely and easily
- Boosts the reach of Ehsaas Programme and Benazir Income Support, and helps improve the conditions of the economically isolated classes.
Features of Raast
The primary objective of Raast is to reduce the reliance the Pakistani population has on cash. The features of the project allow Raast to pave the way for a cashless economy.
- Instant Payments: Real time instant digital payments between individuals, businessmen, government bodies and others.
- Minimum cost for users: Raast will operate in a way that users from all socio-economic backgrounds will have access to it.
- Interoperability: the Program will allow the financial institutions to deal with one another across any channel.
- Customer centric: Built on cutting edge technology, the project will be user-friendly and innovative.
- Reliability: While availing Raast, the end users can be certain that their information will be kept secure.
Digital Pakistan Vision- Aims
Digital Pakistan Vision was launched in 2019, with the aim of increasing connectivity and improving the digital payment products portfolio, the digital infrastructure, and technological entrepreneurship. The areas the project aims to target are:
- Access and Connectivity
- Digital Infrastructure
- Digital Skills and Training
- Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Access and Connectivity
By focusing on availability and connectivity, the government of Pakistan aims to create a seamless digital space.
It will provide a guideline on how to create, regulate, and govern the above-mentioned digital space for efficient functioning.
The digital space is needed for running governance practices, as unmonitored cyberspaces cause a lot of problems. E-Governance will monitor the digital space and connect government bodies for safe and effective sharing of data.
Digital Skills and Training
Lack of awareness on technology related issues is the biggest reason why the country is lagging behind in such matters. Under the Digital Pakistan Vision, suitable training will be given to ensure proper operation of the digital space.
Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Promoting the culture of innovation, the government of Pakistan allows the individuals working with these digital spaces to innovate and start new programmes. Stay updated with JagahOnline Blogs, about information related to property, current affairs and more and follow us on Facebook as well.