Economy of Pakistan
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Her Majesty (HM) Queen Maxima of the Netherlands in her role as the UN Secretary General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA) called on Dr. Reza Baqir, Gov­ernor State Bank of Pakistan at Islam­abad. The Special Advocate and Gov­ernor Baqir 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.

At the outset of the meeting, Gov­ernor highlighted SBP’s initiatives, commitment and achievements for increasing financial inclusion under National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) 2023. The Governor also shared with the UNSGSA, the high impact de­velopment initiatives including gender mainstreaming in financial inclusion, creation of Innovation Office within the central bank, establishment of Micro Payment Gateway (MPG) and regulato­ry framework for Fintechs.

The Governor said that SBP, being mindful of the rising gender gap in ac­cess and usage of financial services in Pakistan, has decided to launch a policy to reduce the gender gap in financial inclusion. Accordingly, the Governor presented the draft policy on gender mainstreaming to the UNSGSA, which aims to introduce a gender lens within the financial sector through identified pillars and specific measures.

Governor Baqir also deliberated that SBP is exploring ways to encour­age innovation for financial inclusion through fintech by creating an Inno­vation Office at SBP. The Governor while appreciating the UNSGSA, for her efforts to promote financial inclusion globally invited her to share her views on both the SBP initiatives of policy for reducing gender gap in financial inclu­sion and innovation office.
Speaking on the occasion, UNSGSA Queen Maxima remarked that she was very happy to return to Pakistan and valued the discussion with State Bank on financial inclusion. She appreciated the progress made by SBP and Paki­stan with respect to financial inclusion while focusing on gender mainstream­ing and digital financial services. The UNSGSA pointed out that 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.

The UNSGSA 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 SBP to create a micropayment gate­way in 2020. She, however, added that while resolving technical issues are important, it is more challenging to en­courage people in engaging with digital modes of payment. Adding further, the UNSGSA 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 UNSG­SA agreed to continue sharing ideas and follow up on agreed tasks for promot­ing financial inclusion. The Governor thanked the UNSGSA, Queen Maxima for personal commitment and pushing forward the agenda of financial inclu­sion as a means for achieving inclusive development.
Governor SBP shares developments in financial inclusion and roadmap with Queen Maxima