Raast: A revolutionary initiative  

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DIGITAL payments have transformed the way businesses receive payments and also the way consumers make payments. Pakistan took another step towards the digital world on Monday with the launching of Raast – the country’s first instant payment system that enables end-to-end digital payments amongst individuals, businesses and government entities within seconds. Addressing the launching ceremony, Prime Minister Imran Khan termed Raast a big step towards realizing the country’s potential saying it will help the country move from cash economy to digital economy.
The State Bank of Pakistan and its whole team especially Governor Reza Baqir deserves applause for pursuing a robust roadmap and action plan to deploy a modern digital payments network in the country. Raast is a giant leap in that direction which undoubtedly has been developed as per the best international practices and standards with the aim of providing easy, convenient and faster payment services to the people. According to the World Bank, Pakistan has the digital finance potential of $ 36 billion dollars. Widespread use of digital payments can give a major boost to the GDO while creating immense job opportunities. This will also greatly supplement the government’s efforts to document the economy and ensure financial inclusion.  However, there are also many challenges that need to be addressed through greater awareness. The fact of the matter is that our fifty per cent adult population, mostly women, still lack access to financial services and because of low literacy rate, the people still like to pay in cash. As many digital payment solutions are operating in the country now, there is a need to create awareness amongst the people to opt for such payments which offer a variety of options to the common man with a user-friendly interface especially designed to facilitate the illiterate. After motivating people to become part of the mobile payment system, the companies need to engage them by offering the option to pay on retail stores also, because at present only high-end shops offer the payment option. Pensioners and the deserving families registered with the Ehsaas Programme currently have to undergo a lot of pain to get the payments from banks. It will be a major relief to them if they are also provided the payments through the instant digital payment system.

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