Mobile payment app SimSim became Pakistan’s first free mobile wallet service after the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) approved the official launch of the service – a move the company said would boost financial inclusion in the country.
Formal approval follows a pilot scheme when the app was used by 30,000 people, generating PKR600 million ($5.7 million) in transactions across a retail network of 500 merchants. The service allows anyone with a Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC) to open an account without the need to register with a traditional bank.
The SimSim account allows direct cash transfers from banks and other users with a mobile phone number used as the identifier. Although primarily a mobile service, it also offers users a physical card for ATM withdrawals. The service is a collaboration between microfinance bank Finca and fintech company Finja.
Discussing the SBP approval, Finca CEO Mudassar Aqil said: “SimSim’s innovative instant mobile account will go a long way in boosting financial inclusion in the country and digitising the economy.”
Pakistan is still a mostly cash-based economy with a large proportion of the population unbanked. Although other mobile wallets are already available in the market, Finca said SimSim is the first to be free of charge for the end user.
According to a November 2016 Bloomberg interview with the Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan, Ashraf Mahmood Wathra, around three quarters of the country’s population does not have a bank account. By 2020, Wathra wants this figure down to half.