In Pakistan, a country where only 14 percent of the population own a conventional bank account, the retail banking sector remains underdeveloped. However, this has spurred the emergence of branchless banking with GSM provider, Telenor, taking the lead and launching Pakistan’s first mobile banking service in 2009. Since then, several such services have taken a foothold in the market but branchless banking is still a fledgling segment as only a meager 3 percent of the population own mobile bank accounts. In spite of this, using these services is more safe and convenient than ever before. While there are a fair number of mobile banking services available in the market, EasyPaisa, JazzCash, and Omni are a few of the more popular and well-established ones.
EasyPaisa – Fee Structure & Guide
A joint venture between Norwegian-owned Telenor and Tameer Microfinance Bank, EasyPaisa has grown to become the dominant mobile banking service in the eight years since its launch. According to a report by the State Bank of Pakistan in 2017, EasyPaisa held a 45 percent share of the market in terms of the total number of registered accounts.
Opening an easypaisa account is very easy, especially for Telenor subscribers for whom it is as simple as dialing a string of characters and creating a 5-digit PIN when prompted via SMS. For non-Telenor subscribers, it is slightly more complicated as you will have to provide your CNIC number but the entire process can be completed over SMS. This is all assuming that your SIM is verified. If it isn’t, you can visit any of their Franchise, Bank, Sales or Service centers for manual registration. Regardless of whether or not you’re a Telenor subscriber, your mobile number serves as your account number. Deposits can be made by visiting any of the 75,000 easypaisa shops all over Pakistan or through transfers from another EasyPaisa or bank account. Apparently, there are three main types of EasyPaisa accounts: Level 0, Level 1 and Level 2
A Level 0 account is the simplest to register for as it doesn’t require any paperwork (assuming that your SIM is verified). But there is a 50,000 rupee daily withdrawal limit which may be a little too restrictive for some people. A Level 1 account requires you to submit your CNIC for verification after which you can avail a higher withdrawal limit. On the other hand, there are four types of Level 2 accounts: Basic, A, B, and C. Registering for some of these types of accounts can involve a hefty amount of paper work but this is justified by even higher withdrawal limits.
EasyPaisa also has several insurance and savings products on offer. For example, “Khushaal Munafa” which promises account holders with deposits amounting to at least 2000 rupees a return of up to 9 percent.
JazzCash – Fee Structure & Guide
Though JazzCash trails behind EasyPaisa in the branchless banking market, it holds a greater share of active account holders.
If you’re a Jazz or Warid user, registering for a JazzCash account isn’t very different from registering for an easypaisa one. However, the option to register via mobile phone isn’t available to non-users who have to visit one of their customer service centers for biometric verification. Funds can be deposited for free through the 60,000 JazzCash Agents spread across the country or by Bank Transfer. Like EasyPaisa, a Level 0 JazzCash account has a 50,000 rupee daily withdrawal limit.
JazzCash also offers a few savings i.e “Bachat” plans to account holders which, depending on the balance in their accounts, promised an annual return of up to 9 percent. Moreover, subscribing to any of these plans does not prevent them from making withdrawals at their discretion.
Omni – Fee Structure & Guide
After Telenor in 2009, UBL was the second player to enter the mobile banking market with the launch of Omni in 2010. It is the third most popular branchless banking service with an 11 percent share of the market.
To open an Omni account, you can either download the UBL Omni Mobile app and register using your smartphone or visit any of the Omni “Dukaans” located in more than 900 cities and towns across Pakistan. Regardless of the method you use, you’ll have to show your original CNIC in some form and in the latter case, you’ll have to deposit a minimum of 100 rupees in your account. By default, a non-biometric Level 0 account is opened in your name with a daily withdrawal limit of 15,000 rupees. However, you can easily upgrade it to a Level 1 account by visiting an Omni “Dukaan” and passing a few verification checks.
Currently, UBL doesn’t have any savings plans on offer to Omni account holders.