Improved gender-parity can enhance socio-economic development outcomes for not just the existing but future generations. Better opportunities for women and youth to earn and control income could immensely contribute to broader economic progress in the developing economies; for instance through higher levels of school enrollment for girls, improved productivity of new and female-owned companies, and risen potential of economic growth for the country.
In this regard, women’s equal access to financial services becomes a priority for a country like Pakistan whose population of 207.8 million includes 49% women who largely lag behind men in terms of financial inclusion and contribution to economic activity. Despite the fact that women have made some strides in terms of financial inclusion, a gaping gender divide exists in the country, which is one of the widest amongst its South Asian peers. As per the Findex 2017, 21% of adults in Pakistan have a formal financial account in Pakistan increasing from 13% in 2015. However, as per gender-disaggregated analysis almost 93% of adult women in Pakistan do not have a formal financial account, which can provide an avenue for ownership and safe storage of money, and serve as a conduit for other formal financial services, critical for improved socio economic outcomes for them and their families.
It is estimated that the market potential of Digital Finance Services (DFS) in Pakistan will cross US$ 36 Billion by 2025, providing a 7% boost to the GDP, creating 4 million new jobs and resulting in US$ 263 Billion new deposits. Although Pakistan does possess a nascent DFS ecosystem, to tap its true potential, innovative solutions from fin-techs for the women and youth market segments offers huge opportunity to help Pakistan leapfrog into the next generation of DFs enabled economic growth. The ultimate goal is to use DFS to make markets so inclusive that even small entrepreneurs in Pakistan, such as a young woman making crafts in rural Sindh, can sell it online across Pakistan and generate revenues digitally.