KARACHI: Pakistan is one of the eight priority nations out of 90-plus markets in which international digital payments company Visa Inc operates across Central Europe, Middle East and Africa.
In a recent interview with Dawn, Visa Inc Group Country Manager for North Africa, Levant and Pakistan Leila Serhan said the market share of her company in the South Asian economy of approximately 49 million payment cards is about 60 per cent.
Visa Inc issues “credentials” — payment IDs linked to bank accounts or mobile wallets — that enable secure and convenient transactions among financial institutions, merchants and consumers.
“Over the past two years, we have seen the value transacted through Visa credentials (in Pakistan) growing between 30pc and 35pc year-on-year… We’ve seen a big rise in ecommerce. Covid-19 has accelerated the rise as more and more small businesses are getting into ecommerce,” she said.
Holds over 60pc market share in Pakistan
A total of 13.6m e-commerce transactions amounting to Rs26.7 billion were conducted digitally in the October-December quarter of the current fiscal year. The figures translate to quarterly growth rates of 7.2pc volume-wise and 19.8pc in terms of the value transacted, according to the central bank.
A steeper rise was witnessed in the number of ecommerce merchants, which grew 32.6pc to 3,968 in the three-month period.
Ms Serhan said one measure of potential for Visa Inc in the Pakistani market is the personal consumption expenditure, which is as high as $200bn annually. That’s the money people spend on goods and services every year, although the share of funds that use the Visa rails continues to be “very low”.
More than three-quarters of adult Pakistanis remain unbanked. “Even being banked doesn’t mean you’re paying digitally. The opportunity for digitising more payments is north of 95pc (in Pakistan),” she said.
Referring to a small business recovery survey conducted recently by Visa Inc in Pakistan, Ms Serhan said nearly eight in 10 such enterprises see digital payments as “necessary” for post-pandemic recovery.
As many as 31pc of merchants surveyed who currently lack online presence reported they’re planning to build an ecommerce platform. More than 50pc are planning to offer contactless payments and digital prepayment options going forward, its findings show. One-third of merchants surveyed (34pc) said they believe accepting digital payments is likely to increase their sales.
“When you go online, you need to provide your consumers with a frictionless shopping experience. It means giving consumers the option to pay online. And for that you need digital payment credentials. That’s where Visa comes into play.”
Published in Dawn,June 12th, 2022