30 October 2014

Bright Future of Mobile Banking in Pakistan

With over 130 million mobile phone users, Pakistan has emerged as the fifth largest mobile phone consumer market in Asia thus opening the rich chances of further growth for mobile banking market. The mobile banking sector is not a new phenomena in the developed world with offering quality, speedy, accurate as well as paperless services involving the customers through mobile phones. Pakistan has been aggressively in this sector especially for the last couple of years and now the introduction of 3G and 4G technologies the sector is set to witness further boom. With the launch of branch-less banking, Pakistan has emerged as one of the fastest developing markets in banking sector across the world and has a great potential for banks to penetrate the unsaturated market and around 130 million mobile users will take the advantage of financial banking services. The country had witnessed impressive growth in the telecom sector since mid 2000s and achieved an incredible 73 per cent market penetration within a decade. Wide network coverage, easy availability of SIM cards and reload vouchers and ever reducing call rates and SMS packages did play a key role in the acceptance of mobile service by the masses. From 2011 to 2013, there has been a 327 per cent growth in the number of branch-less banking transactions; and the value of these transactions has grown by almost 400 per cent. These numbers not only illustrate the need for mobile banking in the country, but also the demand that continues to be on the rise. This provided a golden opportunity to tap the un-banked segment. Compared to rural areas that have 64 per cent of population, banking has been more effective in urban areas. The cost of doing business in rural areas is great and infrastructure is under-developed for efficient and effective banking. Mobile phone, due to its wide coverage, has become an accessible banking channel and we witnessed the beginning of branch-less banking which is satisfactorily successful. Currently telecoms are offering very low cost internet packages to their subscribers and prices of smartphones are rapidly coming down. High-tech phones are becoming accessible to lower strata of Socio-economic classes. With 3G, the demand for smartphones will soar even further facilitating customers to enjoy quality services Mobile Wallets, Financial Apps, insurance and restaurants. It’s time in Pakistan for bankers to invest in potential untapped areas by offering their own mobile financial services to grab the new potential opportunity to maximize their revenues.

23 October 2014

Hazard of substandard mobile phones

Ever since the telecom sector was launched in 2001 in Pakistan, with the introduction of GSM, the telecom industry has continued to witness a phenomenal growth in all facets of communication pushing mobile phone connections figure to over 130 million. Though this growing number of connections invariably fuelled the demand for mobile handsets and accessories within the country, yet it also gave boost to substandard mobile phone market. In fact appealing features, cheap price tags, dual SIM option, attractive packing as well as shapes, poverty and ignorance of technology are potential factors behind the booming of substandard mobile phones. Consumers opt for substandard or counterfeit mobile phones because they are cheap and look like the originals. A fresh study reveals that consumers and companies spend millions of dollars each year on counterfeit copies, financing scammers, who threaten the very integrity of the legitimate software industry. World-renowned mobile phone manufacturers, including Nokia, have identified Asia as one of the main sources of fake phones, which lack warranty, quality assurance, and standard technology and safety measures. Researches show that substandard mobile phones emit highly hazardous emissions and create radiations which may soon begin to manifest not fit for human health. The substandard components in fake phones often malfunction with the potential to injure users and damage property. It is point of high concern that fake phones are a drain on mobile phone networks reducing network speed and reception for users besides posting a high rate of call dropping. 

Some of them have unpredictably short lives forcing the user to incur extra costs during replacement. As long as the trade on counterfeit mobile devices continues, government loses revenue in the form of taxes, the economy loses potential employment opportunities, and investors are discouraged, thus dealing a deadly blow on government’s efforts at encouraging foreign direct investment. The government can combat the growing counterfeit phone problem with promoting new as well as certified technology which can identify substandard devices on the mobile network and permanently block users who don’t change to a genuine product. As a remedy, the US and Australian government are presently mulling various means and options to de-link these fake phones from connecting to their country’s existing mobile network. There is a dire need to plug all loopholes of substandard or fake mobile phones smuggling besides. The government and mobile service providers need to sit together and draft a comprehensive strategy to create awareness among users about the hazards of substandard mobile phones.

16 October 2014

Zong launches 4G in Pakistan

Zong, the country’s main cellular service provider, has launched the 4G/LTE services in Pakistan.
Minister for IT and Telecommunication Anusha Rahman was the chief guest at the launching ceremony.

She said that with the advent of 4G service, an era of accelerated digitization has begun in Pakistan.
She said, her ministry detached itself after announcing the policy guideline for spectrum auction through MI (Memorandum of Information).

Unfortunately, she said, we could not have new entrant due to scarcity of time. Telcos also showed their keen interest and confidence in the auction process.

The minister said that today I am standing with the sense of satisfaction & contentment that my dream has become reality but journey of accelerated digitalization is still there.

The minister extended her heartiest felicitation to DR Fan Yunjun, CEO China Mobile, and his dedicated team for successful launching of first-ever 4G mobile service in Pakistan.

Dr Fan hailed the continuous support of the government, Ministry of IT & PTA in the successful launch of this advance technology. He acknowledged all who facilitated Zong throughout the entire process and reinforced that without the government’s positive vision this mobile internet revolution would have remained a distant dream.

Dr Fan Yunjun also shared congratulatory note to other telecos and stated that together as an industry,we can work continuously to redefine the local telecom sector. He paid special thanks to the minister and secretary for gracing the occasion.

12 October 2014

Gattian Lake Trek

Amazing shots by Syed Hussain Ali Gillani

Gattian Lake lies in Azad Kashmir just near the border with Kaghan Valley at an altitude of 12,000 ft above sea level. The lake is neighbor to the famous Ratti Gali Lake which lies just 2 kilometers to the south.