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50 percent branches of banks to be automated by 2004: SBP governor

KARACHI (April 27 2003) : Governor State Bank Dr Ishrat Hussain has said that despite starting late, Pakistan has made extremely rapid progress in e-banking.

He was speaking at the inaugural session of TechMedia 2003 conference on e-commerce, information technology and media development, organised by Conceptual Factor Inc in collaboration with the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) at the Federation House here on Saturday.

“During the last two years, almost 40 percent of bank branches have been automated and it is expected that by 2004 almost 50 percent of the branches would be automated,” the SBP Governor said, adding that the rate of increase during the last two years has been 300 percent plus.

“This is one of the fast growing e-banking in the world,” he remarked.

The SBP chief said that besides automated branches the number of online branches has increased from 570 to 1,356 in the two-year time, which is a growth rate of 376 percent.

He said that with penetration of Internet in the country many banks have started web-based banking in Pakistan.

Mobile banking would be the next fashion in the world, because mobile phone has an ability to be more convenient, he said, adding that Habib Bank has started a very major initiative in e-baking.

“Now you can transfer your accounts and funds, sitting in Karachi, to anywhere in Pakistan where Habib Bank has branches,” he added.

Dr Ishrat Hussain said that because of e-commerce, now the customers do not have to wait for three days for their funds to be transferred from one branch to another.

He said because of electronic commerce, now raw material can be purchased without any delay in time and money can be transferred immediately to the supplier. “That will cut down not only cost but the time,” he added.

The SBP governor said that the government has realised the importance of e-commerce and it has issued the Electronic Transaction Ordinance 2002, which covers issues such as the certification authorities and cyber-banking crimes.

“Once you have a large volume of transactions, you can expect cyber crimes,” he added.

Dr Ishrat said that besides legal cover, an institutional arrangement is also needed to detect, investigate and prosecute such type of crimes.

He said “the State Bank is itself in the process of computerisation.”

The SBP itself is implementing the largest single IT project in Pakistan, he said, adding that it is $24 million project, which is being executed by a series of international and Pakistani efforts. “Pakistani firms are as good as international firms,” he commented.

He said Pakistan has a lot of talent, so the youth should come forward and utilise their talent.

“We should not always try to put ourselves down,” he added.

LACK OF CONFIDENCE: The SBP governor said that lack of confidence is a big problem in our country.

“I have recruited almost 150 young graduates in IT from Pakistan. I can tell you that these can be as competitive as anybody else in India, Singapore or Malaysia or elsewhere.”

He said Pakistani youngsters should be proud of their capabilities.

Dr Ishrat exhorted the youth to use their creativity, innovation, marketing skills for success in the competitive world.

“Now you need not to rely on concessions or government support, he said, adding the youth should work hard according to their best abilities to sell Pakistani goods and services.

Dr Ishrat Hussain said that there is no single fixed point in e-commerce.

“Technology is changing fast and for that you have to keep pace.”

Earlier, the FPCCI President, in his welcome address said that the share of service sector in Pakistan's GDP is only 5 percent whereas it is in the developed countries more than 50 percent.

“Through IT, Pakistan can increase its share of service sector in its GDP,” he added.

Director of Conceptual Factor Tahseen Shasta, FPCCI Vice-President Engineer Abdul Jabbar also spoke on the occasion.

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