Many commercial banks in Pakistan have digital banking apps and internet banking facilities. Several digital banks have emerged in the last decade, revolutionizing the country’s mobile banking industry.
Banking in Pakistan has changed dramatically in the past few years. Though branch banking is still prevalent throughout the country, digital banking has evolved to take a significant market share.
Digital banking is growing rapidly across the globe. Several countries are drafting policies to move towards cashless economies, and Pakistan is no exception.
This article highlights the state of digital banking in Pakistan and lists the 15 best digital banks in the country.
Digital Banking in Pakistan
Millions of users in Pakistan opt for digital banking due to its ease of use and security. Digital banking allows Pakistanis to open accounts, make payments, pay bills, and get access to several discounts and facilities.
Pakistan has a population of more than 212 million people. The number of bank accounts in the country stands at a little more than 62 million, resulting in a penetration of around 29%.
The State Bank of Pakistan has set out policies encouraging commercial banks in the country to push towards branchless banking. Gone are the days when users had to stand in a queue to pay their bills at bank branches. Various mobile and microfinance banks have emerged that allow users to send and receive money from anywhere around the globe from the comfort of their homes.
Conventional banks such as HBL and Standard Chartered bank have enabled users to open digital accounts via their apps or internet banking. This facility allows users to open and manage their bank accounts without visiting a branch.
Best Digital Banks in Pakistan (Including Roshan Digital Accounts for NRPs)
Several commercial banks in Pakistan, such as HBL, Allied Bank, and United Bank Limited, have introduced online account opening services. Easypaisa is Pakistan’s first digital bank that has revolutionized the branchless banking industry in the country.
Pakistan has 41 scheduled banks, including private and public sector banks. Several of them have started offering branchless banking services. Users can now open their bank accounts by downloading their app or filling out an online form.
Here are the top digital banks in Pakistan.
1. United Bank Limited
United Bank Limited was founded in 1958 and is one of the largest commercial banks in Pakistan. The bank offers online account opening services to its users, and you have to visit its website and apply for a digital account.
Once you have submitted your application and the required documents, your account will become active upon confirmation. You can now download the UBL mobile app and sign in with your internet banking ID and password.
UBL users can apply for loans or invest in mutual funds via their app. Users can also order credit and debit cards via the app.
HBL, or Habib Bank Limited, is Pakistan’s largest and oldest commercial bank. It was founded in 1939 by the Habib family and played a crucial role in the developing economy of the newly formed country. HBL Mobile is the digital banking app of the bank.
Users can download the app or directly visit the HBL website to apply for a digital account. After fulfilling the requirements and submitting the relevant documents, users will receive a confirmation email from the bank.
The HBL mobile app allows users to make payments, pay bills, or send money to anyone in the country.
3. Standard Chartered
Standard Chartered is one of the biggest foreign banks in Pakistan.
Users can download the SC Mobile Pakistan app from App Store or Play Store and apply for a new account. This account can be created from the mobile app, and users do not have to visit their website. Though, if you prefer to open an account via their website, you can do so.
Via the SC Mobile app, users can perform various banking transactions and payments. Their app is updated regularly and has an interactive but easy-to-use UI.
4. JS Bank
JS Bank is one of the most prominent commercial banks in the country, and the JS Group primarily owns it. Users can apply for a digital account via their website, or download the JS Mobile app and apply for an account from there.
The process takes only a few minutes and requires the following:
- ID documents
- Proof of income
- Proof of residence
Users may also be asked to click a live picture for their records and confirmation. Once the account is ready to use, users can carry out their daily banking transactions easily.
5. Faysal Bank
Faysal Bank started its operations in 1987 as a conventional bank. In 2014, the bank decided to cease conventional banking and convert to a full-fledged Islamic bank. Users can create a digital account with Faysal bank via their app or website.
There are two types of digital bank accounts offered by Faysal Bank – current and savings. Users can select either of the two accounts depending on their preference and complete the registration process. ID cards and Proof of income are supporting documents required for account creation.
6. Allied Bank
Allied bank introduced the myABL digital wallet app to facilitate its users and provide their services via internet banking. Users can download the app and apply for a digital account. Like every other bank, Allied Bank also requires verification documents for account opening.
Users can also shop via the app, book tickets, or carry out business transactions at their fingertips.
7. Bank Alfalah
Bank Alfalah was founded in 1997 and is owned by the Abu Dhabi United Group. Its app, “Alfa,” has some of the best features in any banking app in Pakistan. However, the app has been reported by some to lag occasionally.
Users can open a bank account via the alfa app. Click on the “Register Now” option and select “Open an Alfalah Digital Account.” Follow the steps and provide any documents to create your account.
Users can use the Alfa app to access the Alfa mall, a great marketplace for various consumer goods.
8. Askari Bank
Users can create an Askari Bank account by visiting their website and filling out a form. Once you have submitted the form, it can take a couple of days for the bank to open your account. Now, users can use the “Askari Digital” app to make and manage money transactions.
Users also get access to several discounts and facilities that the bank provides.
Easypaisa is one of the most famous mobile banks in the country. It was founded in 2009 and was the first digital bank in Pakistan. The mobile wallet soon gained traction in the early 2010s and became one of the largest microfinance banks thanks to its vast network of cash agents.
Users can easily create an Easypaisa account from the comfort of their homes, and all it requires is a valid CNIC and a phone number. Once you complete the registration, your account is created instantly, and you can start carrying out basic transactions.
The mobile bank has recently become a full-fledged digital bank. Users can now upgrade their mobile wallets to a complete digital account according to the SBP regulations.
The Easypaisa app allows users to carry out a variety of transactions, including:
- Money Transfer
- Bill payment
- Ticket booking
- Fee payment
- Mobile loads and bundles
- Insurance payments
- Credit card payments, among others
JazzCash, or Mobilink Microfinance Bank, was launched in 2012 and became a direct rival to Easypaisa. It has the most transactions among any other digital bank in the branchless payment sector of Pakistan.
The JazzCash app instantly allows users to create a digital account and offers almost the same features as Easypaisa. One service that sets JazzCash apart from its rival is its integration with Payoneer.
In 2020, JazzCash partnered with Payoneer to facilitate the ever-growing freelancer base in the country. This allowed users to withdraw funds from their Payoneer account directly to their JazzCash account.
Nayapay is a relatively new entrant to the digital banking sector of Pakistan. It was launched in 2019 and was the first wallet to offer virtual debit cards to its users. Users can register for Nayapay via their app and get instant bank accounts.
Nayapay provides several services to its users, including:
- ATM Visa debit cards (physical and virtual)
- Bill payments
- Mobile loads
- Money Transfer
Like Nayapay, Sadapay is also a new entrant to the Pakistani banking sector. It was launched in 2020 and is the only one to issue vertical ATM debit cards to its users. These debit cards do not have the traditional 16-digit code written, making them more secure.
Sadapay also provides its users the facility to perform three withdrawals from any ATM in Pakistan, free of cost. The mobile bank offers Mastercard debit cards, both physical and virtual, to its users.
HBL launched the Konnect wallet to tap into the mobile banking sector of Pakistan. It is a basic banking app that allows simple transactions and other common features such as bill payments, mobile top-ups, and Gulak (fixed deposits).
Users can apply for a Konnect ATM debit card which can be used to withdraw funds for free from any HBL ATM in the country.
14. Keenu Wallet
Keenu Wallet became highly popular in 2016 when Wemsol launched it. The wallet has minimum features and allows users to perform basic banking operations.
Due to the unwelcoming interface and limited services, I do not use the Keenu wallet. Still, it is a good option for anyone looking for a decent app for money transactions.
15. Finca Microfinance Bank
Finca Microfinance Bank was launched in 2008, aiming to provide loans to low-income borrowers in Pakistan. In 2017, Finca launched its digital payment platform, SimSim Pakistan, to provide all cashless payment services to its users in a single app.
Users can book tickets, send money, order debit cards, and pay utility bills from their app. Finca also launched another app in the Urdu language to facilitate users who are not comfortable with English.
Other Services Provided by Digital Banks in Pakistan
Digital banking is still in its nascent stage in Pakistan. However, several initiatives are being taken at the government level to provide users with a more convenient way of performing banking transactions.
The government of Pakistan introduced the Raast payment system, which allows users to create a single ID that can be used to send or receive payments via IBFT.
Raast is the first P2P instant payment system activated on a user’s phone number. Once the Raast ID is activated, users can easily receive money from other Raast users by simply telling them their phone numbers.
Roshan Digital Accounts
The government of Pakistan launched Roshan Digital Accounts in 2020 to facilitate overseas Pakistanis in creating a local bank account for savings and investing. These accounts can be created at almost all the major commercial banks in the country, and the process is entirely digital.
It usually takes around two days for a Roshan Digital Account to become active. This initiative was launched to attract investment and provide more saving opportunities to Non-Resident Pakistanis.
Digital banking has considerably evolved in Pakistan. Various mobile banks and applications have been launched to facilitate users and allow online bank account creation. These digital banks are paving the way for a cashless economy in the country.
Several major banks have already started enabling their users to create digital accounts from the comfort of their homes. Easypaisa and JazzCash have become two of the most used financial service apps in Pakistan.
With a large part of the population of Pakistan still reliant on offline banking, there is huge potential for new entrants to capture the market and play their part in making the country a cashless economy.