Easypaisa for the unbanked

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By Jahanzaib Haque

(Published in Nov-Dec 2009 issue of Aurora)

In a synergy of telecom and banking, Telenor Pakistan and Tameer Micro Finance Bank have launched ‘Easypaisa’ – a financial service which promises to introduce ‘true branchless banking’ to the unbanked majority of Pakistan.

Accoding to Yassir Shafi, Account Director, Adcom (the creative agency for Easypaisa), “Previously, branchless banking offerings were for inter-bank customers only, but the Easypaisa concept makes these financial services open to everyone.”

By using the Easypaisa option, people can now pay their utility bills at one of the over 2,200 registered Easypaisa retail outlets across Pakistan, rather than going to a bank. The payment is made via a SMS sent by the authorised retailer connected to a Tameer Bank account, while a service fee of 10-25 rupees is charged, depending on the size of the transaction.

While this service may sound rather less than spectacular compared to the advertising blitz that accompanied it, the potential of Easypaisa lies in it being a ‘product umbrella’ for further transactional services slated to be launched in the coming months, including sending/receiving money within Pakistan and receiving money from abroad – all done through a mobile phone.

Usman Javaid, Director Marketing, Telenor Pakistan says, “We are bringing a more convenient and secure way of banking to the table. Today, if someone in a village wants to send money to someone else located 100 kilometres away, he will have to walk 10-15 kilometres to get to a bus station, hand the money over to the bus driver and pay him for transferring the money within the next two to three days. Imagine that money being transferred as fast as a SMS!”

While such a service may be months away from realisation, the Easypaisa ad campaign has not held back on promoting the full potential of the brand across all ATL media as well as supporting BTL activities.

“We are not selling a product, but an easy way of life, marketed on convenience at a functional level, while on the emotional level we are selling hope,” explains Javaid.

While it is too early to judge whether Easypaisa will deliver on such a lofty proposition, the brand is well placed to lead the market into a branchless banking future, especially as the key issue of customer trust and response is addressed by Telenor’s brand equity, and the fact that mobile credit scratch cards have already laid the groundwork for understanding the concept of financial transactions via the mobile phone.

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