Investing and financing category
Easypaisa was established in 2009 to bring financial inclusion to the people of Pakistan. At that time only 15m people out of an adult population of 110m in the country had bank accounts. The vast majority relied on informal systems. But around 80m of the same people had a mobile phone.
The objective was to make convenient, secure financial services available to customers on their own mobile phones. It was to overcome financial exclusion to make financial services more accessible to the masses, to create jobs for thousands of people and allow the documentation of a large proportion of cash flowing in the economy. By moving all this paper cash to digital financial services systems they could also provide the government, the regulators and the tax authorities with data trails on where this money is and where it is moving to.
Having agreed a framework with the regulators, Easypaisa used the technology they already had in parent Telco joint ventures and leveraged the existing 250,000 shops they had across the country. They chose a subset of agents that they trained and they used a huge marketing exercise to ensure that by 2016, Easypaisa had become the category name for mobile financial services. This brought trust, reliability, security and convenience. This empowers the elderly and the young, the poor widows in rural areas and the urban people in cities. A low-cost financial infrastructure has opened up markets for healthcare services, savings and insurance products, making financial services available for all.
The main lesson learned was that the ‘people’ part was crucial. It was very important to have people from core functions working on the project and there was a lot of learning on the technical side. Challenges included opening up biometric verification systems to allow people to open one-minute self-registered bank accounts, and encouraging users through educational and incentive-based campaigns.
Easypaisa has had a significant impact on financial inclusion in Pakistan. By taking advantage of mobile technology and creating tailored products, it has reached 20m customers. The judges recognised this as a great achievement.