Bank Alfalah, one of the largest commercial banks in Pakistan signed an agreement with Karandaaz to expand the female agent network in Pakistan. This partnership was signed in the presence of Karandaaz Chairperson Salim Raza, Bank Alfalah President and CEO Atif Bajwa, Karandaaz CEO Waqas ul Hasan, Group Head Digital Banking Group Muhammad Yahya Khan and other senior members of Bank Alfalah and Karandaaz.
The partnership aims to promote women’s financial inclusion in Pakistan and is aligned with the objectives of Karandaaz’s Women’s Financial Inclusion (WFI) programme. This collaboration is a significant step towards fostering economic empowerment and accessibility in the financial sector.
The focus of this strategic partnership is to scale up Bank Alfalah’s female agent network, specifically in the digital branchless banking realm, aiming to actively engage in providing services such as Home Remittance, G2P disbursements, e-commerce and QR transactions, money transfer, utility bill payment, and airtime-related transactions.
In line with the collaboration, Bank Alfalah will onboard female agents across various regions of the country and technically enable them with appropriate use such as remittances where our female customers will be more comfortable in getting serviced and sharing their phone numbers.
Karandaaz CEO Waqas ul Hasan added, “Our collaboration with Bank Alfalah underscores Karandaaz’s dedication to digitalization and financial inclusion with a gender lens. This network expansion contributes to the broader objectives of the State Bank of Pakistan’s Banking on Equality policy, while also setting a precedent for other financial institutions to follow suit. This partnership not only reinforces Karandaaz’s commitment to gender equality in the financial sector but also positions Pakistan as a torchbearer for innovative approaches to financial inclusion on the global stage.”
“This collaboration marks a significant milestone in advancing financial inclusion,” said Bank Alfalah President and CEO Atif Bajwa. “We are dedicated to supporting and empowering female agents, driving digital banking success, and fostering financial inclusion for women across Pakistan. This partnership aligns with our mission to create a more inclusive and accessible financial ecosystem in Pakistan.”
Commenting on this landmark collaboration, the Director Digital Financial Services at Karandaaz, Sharjeel Murtaza expressed, “Female agents are an essential instrument for forwarding the agenda of women’s financial inclusion. However, currently the base of female agents is negligible in the country. Through this partnership with Bank Alfalah, Karandaaz aims to scale the female agent network and keep it active which would certainly lead to increased ownership of digital accounts, usage of financial services and most importantly women’s economic autonomy and agency.”
The understanding that women users may find it more comfortable to engage with female agents due to socio-cultural barriers, is at the core of this initiative. While previous, small-scale, efforts have seen limited successes, Bank Alfalah’s commitment to undertaking this activity on a larger, commercial scale is a pioneering move. The success of this initiative holds the promise of reshaping the financial landscape via female agents, furthering the agenda of women’s financial inclusion, and providing a commercially viable model for other banks to emulate.