KARACHI: The branchless banking sector has opened 2.1 million new accounts, increasing the total to 15.3 million in the October-December, 2015, reported the State Bank of Pakistan on Tuesday.

“Despite the increase, the value of transactions slipped compared to the previous quarter,” added the central bank in its quarterly newsletter on branchless banking BB).

It said the average size of the transaction declined by 8.4% to Rs4,784 in the under review quarter from Rs5,219 in the previous quarter (Jul-Sep 2015).

“A 7.6% decline was observed in the value of BB transactions, which fell to a total of Rs486 billion compared to Rs526.4 billion in the previous quarter.”

The average size of transaction remained Rs4,782 which shows that the BB channel is facilitating the low-income segments to meet their financial needs.

The central bank advised industry players to come up with new and innovative products so that the average value of transactions may return to an upward trajectory.

The number of total transactions, however, went up by 0.8% to 101.63 million from 100.86 million in the previous quarter.

The Branchless Banking channel was used for various transactions such as cash deposits and withdrawals, person-to-person transfers, utility bill payment, mobile top-ups and government-to-person (G2P) payments.

The channel continued to serve as the primary channel for government welfare payments, and facilitated G2P disbursements of Rs18.71 billion to 4.71 million beneficiaries during October-December 2015.

In terms of value of G2P disbursements, Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) remained the major player by disbursing Rs15.4 billion to 3.7 million beneficiaries, followed by Internally Displaced People (IDP) program (Rs2.6 billion to 113,598 beneficiaries) and World food program (Rs337 million to 267,454 beneficiaries).

The central bank said the active-to-total BB accounts ratio rose to 41% in the quarter under review from 39% recorded in the previous quarter. The pattern of this ratio remained the highest in June-2014 standing at 46%. However, after hitting a historic low of 20% in March-15, a steady rise in the active accounts has been seen in these quarters showing that activity in accounts is reviving.

The National Financial Inclusion Strategy has set a target of ensuring that 50% of the adult population has a transactional account by 2020, up from 16% in 2015. It is important to note that the BB industry projected 10.4 million m-wallets till Dec-15; whereas the actual achievement is 47% above the projections.

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