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What is Digital Inclusion?

Jehan | Jul 29 2022
What is Digital Inclusion?

We live in an increasingly digital age, and with so much advancement in technology, it is now more important than ever to start the conversation on digital inclusion in Pakistan.

This means providing the digital tools to ensure equity across the board for all individuals and communities. The core issues of digital inclusion in Pakistan relate to digital literacy and accessibility.

HBL’s head of digital and platform development, Palwasha Faizan shed some light on Digital Inclusivity in Pakistan from a financial perspective at +92Disrupt: LHR Edition.

What is Being done to Promote Digital Inclusion in Pakistan?

As part of their Digital Inclusion policy HBL adopts a 3-pronged strategy when it comes to digital inclusion; sustainability, scalability, and responsibility.

Their goal is to enable financial advancement and enrich the lives of individuals and businesses with technology.

Additonally, their client spectrum ranges from:

  • Individuals
  • Kiryana Stores
  • Micro-SMEs
  • SMEs
  • Corporate/Distributors
  • The Government

Digital Inclusion for the Individual

When it comes to the individual, HBL focuses on providing several comprehensive programs with a particular focus on farmers, daily wage laborers, women, and the underbanked population.

Farmers and the Agri Sector

Recognizing agriculture as a severely underrepresented sector, one full of great untapped potential, HBL strives to enrich the lives of farmers.

This is done through a variety of programs such as offering cash to digital subsidiary provisions, providing farmers with better access to financial instruments, and, smart crop advisory.

HBL also works to increase yield inputs by introducing a pay-when-sale program wherein farmers have access to cash and advisory while raising crops so they can advance their business by making better pitches to sellers.

Making use of the data available to them, HBL has also begun working on Agri-lending Models to sustain and scale their current agricultural programs.

Daily Laborers

For daily wage laborers, besides, empowering them through various financial digital tools such as digital subsidies, HBL also works to provide emergency funding such as with their COVID Ehsaas Emergency program.

Women and Female Entrepreneurship

HBL also recognizes the burgeoning need to financially empower women.

Their programs include partnering with the government-run Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) for poverty alleviation and enhancing financial capacity to further increase accessibility.

Moreover, their use of digital identification works to protect women from losing access to their money. One way to protect women from such cases is using biometric identity verification to prevent money that is rightfully theirs from falling into the wrong hands.

When it comes to female entrepreneurship, HBL works towards empowering women by various means, their partnership with Katalyst Labs being the biggest example of their commitment to advancing the ecosystem and supporting female leaders and business owners.

HBL works toward enabling women-led startups to dream of a better future for themselves through financial support. These involve the introduction of the HBL Nisa account – aimed entirely toward women – providing exclusive lending opportunities.

In addition to the aforementioned programs, it is also essential to recognize that better mechanisms need to be put into place to increase the participation of women at an even bigger level.

HBL is one such entity that aims to promote this by enabling Work from Home (WFH) options to help women embark on career growth trajectories that are sustainable.

The Underbanked Population

For the underbanked segment of Pakistan HBL not only provides digital payments and wallets but has also tuned its focus onto wealth management use cases.

Recognizing wealth management as the least tapped sector in the industry, HBL aims to teach individuals how to save smarter, and better to improve digital financial literacy.

Digital Inclusion for the Ecosystem

To aid the ecosystem and all the new businesses flourishing within it, this is what is being done:

Kiryana Stores and Micro-SMEs

To digitally enrich the ecosystem, HBL provides a range of holistic services.

These include:

  • Agent services
  • QR acceptances
  • Digital data reporting systems

SMEs and Corporations

When it comes to SMEs and corporations, HBL provides smart salary dispersal and fast payment processing options so they can achieve scale in real-time. It also offers credit based on emergencies to fulfill the needs of its clients and grow their businesses.

Environment, Social, and Governance

Pertaining to the environment, social responsibility, and governance, HBL focuses on sustainability, pledging to go paper-free by choosing to go digital. They also aim for a net zero coal impact as part of their responsibility towards the climate.

So, to wrap it up:

As is apparent, there are several sectors in Pakistan greatly in need of digital literacy and digital inclusion, particularly financially. HBL offers a holistic approach to bridging the digital divide offering services and solutions for a range of individuals as well as the larger ecosystem to reduce inequality.