Pakistan is one of the most feasible markets, though still emerging and expanding, for fintech companies. Many companies, notably telecom brands, are offering increasing facilitations for digital payments. However, there are specialised fintech start-ups as well that operate as Electronic Money Institutions (EMIs), believing in the considerable growth of Pakistan’s digital market. Seeing potential in Pakistan’s digital financial market growth, TAG, a mobile application, after getting approval from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), will start pilot operations shortly. The mobile app is distinguishing itself from other financial apps by offering users not only mobile wallets but also debit cards.

Whether or not this particular application is a “super-app”, as the CEO of the start-up believes, is not relevant. What is clear is that many fintech businesses are tapping Pakistan’s digital financial market. Nevertheless, Pakistan’s digital market needs more than a one-stop app. So far, most of these start-ups, offering digital transactional services, are unable to connect the Pakistani customers with the international financial system.

As international payment gateways are not operating in Pakistan, the digital apps working in the country must find a solution or become local partners with them. Apps like PayPal, GooglePay or Stripe connect various systems and economies and do not see it as a sound business decision to operate in Pakistan.

Unfortunately, the country is lagging in attracting such companies that have millions of users across the world and are the frequent choice of customers and buyers to make payments through. The ease of doing business is still a significant hurdle in attracting fintech players. Over regulations in the financial set-up of the country discourage many fintech giants from entering Pakistan’s market. While other countries are easing restrictions to digitise their economic systems fast, our policymakers are not keeping an eye on the changing dynamics of commercial activities across the globe that are shifting towards e-commerce. More effort is needed on this front.