MasterCard and Pakistan’s Bank of Punjab announced on Tuesday the launch of a Social Security program aimed at streamlining government disbursement, subsidy and assistance programs as part of an effort to encourage financial inclusion in the country.
Under the terms of the agreement, the Bank of Punjab will issue payment cards to millions of citizens, approximately 90 percent of whom is currently unbanked, according to MasterCard.
“The costs of cash continue to increase, resulting in a negative impact on the economy,” Raghu Malhotra, the president of MasterCard’s Middle East and North Africa division, said at a signing ceremony in Dubai that included Bank of Punjab President and CEO Naeemuddin Khan. “In addition, it is estimated that $16 trillion is spent in cash every year in black and informal economies around the world – cash that is untaxed and untraceable. With this in mind, MasterCard is fully supportive of the Government of Punjab’s vision to create an inclusive cashless society. The program will drive large scale financial inclusion for the people of Pakistan. We see this initiative as a catalyst to empower the population and help the government to improve transparency and efficiency.”
The new program will support five government programs: healthcare, micro-lending, payroll, pension and education. The program will feature biometric identification tools to verify the identity of the presenting cardholder at the time of transaction.
“The Bank of Punjab is delighted to partner with MasterCard to bring this platform to the people of Punjab, in support of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s vision to deliver financial services to every citizen in the province, improve government services, and eliminate inefficiencies,” Khan said. “Cardholders will now have one safe, secure and simple way to deposit funds, receive social benefits, and pay for goods and services.”