On March 03, 2022, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) organized an interactive session with leading international speakers to discuss the opportunities and challenges associated with digital banks as well as disseminate awareness about Pakistan’s digital bank licensing framework. SBP had announced its landmark regulatory instructions on licensing and regulatory framework for digital banks in Pakistan on January 03, 2022. With the prime objectives of promoting f¬inancial inclusion and customer convenience, the regulatory framework has been designed to attract players with strong value proposition, a robust technological infrastructure, sufficient ¬financial strength, accomplished technical expertise and effective risk management culture in the digital banks’ space.
Governor SBP, Dr. Reza Baqir delivered the key note address followed by a panel discussion on “The Promise of Digital Banks”. The panelists included well-known international experts in the fields of digital banking and fintechs including Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief Fintech Officer at Monetary Authority of Singapore; Omer Ismail, Incoming Chief Executive Officer of ONE and Mamoon Hamid, Managing Member and General Partner at Kleiner Perkins. The discussion was moderated by Ms. Tania Aidrus, Co-founder of The Rayn Group.
Dr. Reza Baqir has led several new initiatives at the State Bank since assuming office in May 2019. These include an aggressive, targeted, and timely economic support package in response to COVID-19; creation of the Roshan Digital Account; initiative to digitally onboard Pakistan’s diaspora into Pakistan’s banking system; launch and implementation of the National Payments Strategy to promote the digitization of financial services in Pakistan, including a faster payment system Raast, launch of a licensing framework for digital banks in Pakistan; creation of a comprehensive program to promote construction and housing finance especially for low income households; and development of a dedicated policy to reduce the gender gap in financial inclusion called Banking on Equality. Governor Baqir holds a PhD in Economics from the University of California at Berkeley and an A.B. (Magna cum Laude) in Economics from Harvard University.
"Our vision of our financial ecosystem is to harness technology to transform our financial system from one which currently caters for the privileged few to one that caters to all except to the illicit and to this effect we have recently undertaken several initiatives in addition to the licensing framework for digital banks and the underlying theme in all of these initiatives have been to bank the unbanked and the under-banked."
Sopnendu Mohanty is the Chief Fintech Officer at the Monetary Authority of Singapore. He has over two decades of public and private sector experience in technology, operations, digital finance, and investment strategies. He has co-authored several patented works in the application of digital technology in finance and won many industry recognitions.
"My first policy statement was not around how to improve payment systems or how to have different lending practices but strangely an API guidelines for the banks. It is a very unusual policy starting point because the intent behind that was, are bank systems ready for partnering with the new age technology."
Omer Ismail is the incoming CEO of ONE, a fintech startup launched in partnership with Walmart and Ribbit Capital. Previously, Omer served as head of Goldman Sachs’ consumer business. He has been recognized as one of Fortune’s 40 under 40, Business Insider’s 100 People Transforming Business and Crain’s 40 under 40. Omer has an MBA from Harvard Business School.
"From my experience, if you think about banking in the US over the last many years, it was about consumers having to go to banks and what has fundamentally changed now and will continue to change is the idea of embedded finance. Let's finance, fintech and banking meet consumers where they already are."
Mamoon Hamid is the Managing Partner at Kleiner Perkins, a Silicon Valley based venture capital rm that was the first investor in companies like Amazon, Google and Genentech. Previously, Mamoon held engineering and marketing roles at Xilinx. Mamoon has an MS from Stanford University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
"As technologists, one of the things that we love is how technology truly democratizes access because inherently technology is supposed to make things more efficient, reduce friction between the people whether it is payments or money being lent to them, and in general it is supposed to bring lots of benefits."
Tania Aidrus is the Co-founder of Rayn, a technology advisory and investment holding company. Previously, Tania served as an advisor to the Prime Minister of Pakistan and has 11 years’ experience at Google in the US and Singapore. Tania holds an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management.