Information Technology University (ITU) of the Punjab and Karandaaz Pakistan entered into an agreement to initiate three research projects through the Fintech Center established at ITU. The three specific academic researches undertaken by this FinTech Center will improve the existing knowledge on women’s use of digital financial services and the barriers they face. The research center will help to develop a deeper understanding of the challenges in financial inclusion and exploring the potential of data science and Information Communication Technologies as a viable solution. The signing ceremony held here today was also witnessed by a delegation of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), which provides funding support to Karandaaz to promote financial inclusion of individuals through digital technologies.
Women in Pakistan often face multiple barriers in availing formal financial services. Theses researches will help in understanding and proposing solutions to mitigate these barriers. The researches shall be conducted in Pakistan with technical collaboration between Digital Financial Services Research Group of the University of Washington, Seattle and ITU faculty. One of the researches will focus on viability of a mobile app to form a rotating savings and credit association of women that will help them save and borrow collectively. Another research will help in designing a digital financial system for business and personal use of micro entrepreneur women. The third research will focus on digital solutions to safeguard women against SMS frauds in Pakistan.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Umar Saif, founding Vice Chancellor of ITU and Chairman PITB said “Joining hands with international development partners Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Karandaz for innovation and research in financial technology space is a welcome step. We envision to partner with local and international entities for financial inclusion through innovative applications of technology. This collaboration would help Pakistan to reform the digital financial services especially with inclusion of women.”
Mr. Jason Lamb, Deputy Director, Financial Services for the Poor, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said, “We believe more knowledge and research will help trigger greater financial inclusion of women through technology in Pakistan. It is heartening to see academicians stepping up to work closely with the industry in solving issues and that Karandaaz and ITU have partnered to make this possible.”
Ali Sarfraz, CEO Karandaaz Pakistan, emphasized the role of digitization in providing the access of financial services to women. “Fostering financial inclusion for women is a core theme for Karandaaz Pakistan. To make any tangible progress on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, Pakistan needs to act immediately to ensure women’s participation in the process of development. One important aspect of achieving the goal is to improve women’s access to financial services and digital platforms can play a decisive role in bringing the financial services to women,” he added.
Karandaaz Pakistan is supporting small and medium entrepreneurs, increasing access to finance for unbanked populations by leveraging digital technologies, developing and disseminating evidence based insights, and encouraging innovation in financial space with funding support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and UK’s Department for International Development (DFID).