The State Bank of Pakistan released its first quarterly report of payment systems for the fiscal year 2021-22 today covering the period July – September 2021. The report shows that Pakistan’s payment ecosystem, especially through digital platforms, continued its brisk pace of growth. E-banking—defined as transactions conducted via electronic channels (including Real-time Online Branches, ATMs, mobile banking, internet banking, call center banking, POS and e-Commerce), continued to thrive in both volume and value during the quarter under review as it grew by 12pc and 16pc respectively in Q1-FY22 over the same quarter of FY21. Two major areas where high adoption of digital payments were witnessed are mobile and internet banking. The number of mobile banking users grew by 4pc on a quarter-over-quarter (QoQ) basis, reaching a total of 11.3 million. The number of transactions conducted via mobile banking channels was 79.1 million with a value of around PKR 2.2 trillion, showing a QoQ growth of 29pc by volume and 36pc by value. Internet banking also contributed to the upswing in the usage of e-Banking services by registering 31pc QoQ growth in internet banking users who conducted 30 million transactions amounting to PKR 1.9 trillion. This amounts to 6pc progress in terms of volume and a 10pc increase in the value of these transactions on QoQ basis. The retail sector continued to show adoption of digital payments. Overall e-Commerce transactions recorded an impressive QoQ growth of 87pc by volume and 21pc by value, though the number of e-commerce merchants remained almost the same as of the last quarter. During the quarter, 12.7 million e-commerce related transactions amounting to PKR 22.3 billion were conducted using digital payment channels. Similarly, the number of merchant Point of Sale (POS) machines also increased by 10pc QoQ reaching 79,134 machines in the country. These machines processed 28.1 million card-based transactions at merchant locations amounting to almost PKR 134.9 billion which showed QoQ increase of 16.1pc by volume and 10.6pc by value. As of end-September 2021, there were 46.2 million total cards in circulation which mainly comprised of Debit Cards (64pc), Social Welfare Cards (22pc), ATM only Cards (10pc), Credit Cards (4pc), and Prepaid Cards (0.3pc). During this quarter, QoQ increase of 5pc in volume of paper-based transactions and 3pc increase in value of paper-based transactions was also observed which may be attributed to people returning to traditional channels (i.e. branches) as pandemic-related restrictions were lifted. In Large-value (wholesale) payments segment, transactions processed, during this quarter, through SBP’s Real-time Inter-Bank Settlement Mechanism (PRISM) recorded a total of 1.1 million transactions amounting to PKR 159.1 trillion which is 7pc higher than the preceding quarter.