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Is the Future, a Cash-Free One?

16 February, 2016

Imagine a world without coins, without change and counting bills. Is it hard to imagine?

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That may well be the case but it could also be a reality one day, soon actually. In the list of countries with more focus on the digitization of currency, Sweden could be the first country to go totally cash-free.  In fact, according to a new report from the New York Times, the Scandinavian country already has many banks that no longer dispense or take cash. The report continued that physical bills and coins amount to just 2% of the country’s economy. The U.S., meanwhile, is at 7.7%.

While developed countries such as Sweden and the U.S. are always at the fore of technologies; this trend of digitization of banking does call in to question how developing nations like Pakistan will cope with the new way of transactions.

It’s a brave new world of digitization but will Pakistan and developing countries where digitization and the internet are not as prevalent, suffer?

The answer may seem like a resounding yes but hold the phone; actually some individuals and companies are paving the way for digitized banking and currency in Pakistan.

JS Bank, the country’s home-grown and is a majority-owned subsidiary of Jahangir Siddiqui & Co. Ltd. and currently operates 238 branches in 122 cities with a total asset base of Rs 112 billion in 2013. JS Bank’s consolidated profits for the year 2013 were Rs 351 million. JS Bank Limited was formed in 2006 by the merger of Jahangir Siddiqui Investment Bank (Ltd) and the commercial banking operations of American Express Bank (Pakistan) Ltd. JS Bank Limited also possesses a Primary Dealer license for government securities from the State Bank of Pakistan.

Though a young bank, it has always been a trailblazer for bringing customers value and ease. From having a robust CSR mandate through the Mahvash and Jahangir Siddiqui Foundation, to garnering discounts to customers at top-notch eateries in the country, the bank is also a pioneer in establishing ‘branch-less banking’ and digitization to its customers.

The bank’s E-Banking has always been internationally competitive as it facilitates customers without relying on physical bank-space and ensures that most services are provided at a click of a button and customer service is always a call away.

Visa Debit Card is a staple that has made countless consumer lives easier; in the country, abroad and online. The convenient allows consumers to shop at over 54,000 merchants in Pakistan and over 22 million Visa merchants worldwide. While having to over 4,000 ATMs nationwide and at over 1.6 million ATMs worldwide.

Online Banking is seamless as one can operate their account from any of the branches of JS Bank Limited. They have 185 branches throughout the country and have aggressive plans to expand their branch network giving our customers even wider access with greater convenience. Through TeleBanking and SMS service, JS Bank has established a holistic and comprehensive strategy to ensure that customers not only have peace of mind and easy accessibility to the bank but can feel secure enough to make the transition to credit/debit cards from cash, as many Pakistanis are new to the concept of cards over cash.

In 2015, JS Bank offered Mobile Banking on WAP portal at https://m.jsbl.com for all customers with internet enabled mobile phones and Pakistan’s first Android App for all Android based smart phone users. With home-grown smart phone makers such as Q-mobile, more and more of the Pakistani population is a smart phone user. Thus, mobile banking is coming at an opportune time for the bank and others seem to be following as well.

The sleek and user friendly design is ideal for making transactions, paying bills, transfers and even checking the balance. Pakistan's first android based mobile banking application from JS Bank has the following features:

 - Account Balance Inquiry

- Mini Statement

- Utility Bills Inquiry

- Post Pay Mobile Bill Inquiry

- Internal Funds Transfers(IFT)

- Interbank Funds Transfer (IBFT)

- Bill Payments for Utility Companies

- Mobile Balance Load for Mobilink, Ufone, Telenor, Warid & Zong

- Post Pay Bill Payment for Mobilink, Ufone, Telenor, Warid & Zong

- Nearest Branch and ATM locations on Google Map

- Transactional facilities without any need for Internet Connection

- Choice of message mode between SMS or Data as per customers' requirement

- Military grade encryption and 2-Factor Security

The app has a four star rating on Google Play and many favourable ratings. Shariq Mubeen reviewed saying, “The fastest app to Transfer Funds, pay utility bills, load mobile balance of all 5 telcos - Ufone, Mobilink, Telenor, Zong and Warid, both post pay and prepay connections. It’s very smooth and doesn’t take more than a minute to execute the transaction. Moreover, there is no need of internet connection after downloading the app and hence it works really fast.”

While a cash-free world is an exciting prospect and the benefits many: more eco-friendly and sustainable, less crime and more freedom; however, some are also a bit more weary of what digitized monetization may mean for the world. With more sophisticated cyber-crimes threatening both consumer privacy and safety, even in Sweden in the past year cybercrime has increased exponentially.  It is pertinent that all banks such as JS Bank taking on this shift are cognizant of these threats and have built-in counters and safety nets. JS Banks’s Military grade encryption and 2-Factor Security is then definitely a step in the right direction.

It is exciting to see what the cash-less future will look like, one bank and one country at a time!


 
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