Pakistan’s banking and financial organizations have lagged behind their foreign counterparts when it has come to embracing changing technology and innovation. Part of the problem is a societal one; where a sizeable portion of the country is illiterate and unfamiliar with modern technology introducing new procedures is always a question of diminishing returns.

Many banking institutions looked at the low penetration of credit cards into the Pakistani market, a law enforcement environment overwhelmed by serious crime to pay much attention to financial fraud, and societal factors mention above to focus on in-person banking and hence resisted the global trend of moving towards seamless online and mobile banking. Coupled with many archaic laws that still apply to the banking sector, the experience of interacting with Pakistani banks is mostly an analogue one, with many paper based requirements being pre-requisites for even basic transactions.

This needs to change. With the country becoming more and more exposed to international monetary systems and digital first business starting up in Pakistan, the argument for not using fast, online, singe-authentication banking methods is weaker than ever. Conventional markers for introducing such methods need to be overlooked and modern ways must be fast-tracked for the small but steadily growing market that needs to use them.

It is quite unfortunate that despite being linked to the global Visa and MasterCard network most major international credit and debit card payment gateways don’t offer their services in Pakistan for global commercial online transactions. Pakistan’s attempts to proposition PayPal – a widespread international customer to customer online payment application – also faced similar setbacks.

The success of EasyPaisa and JazzCash in Pakistan show how badly such networks are needed, and more importantly how they need to be incorporated into online platforms and made hassle free – something both of these networks lack.

Pakistan’s nascent startup and online shopping economy is suffering from this short-sightedness, it needs to be addressed.