Prime Minister visited the Ehsaas Kafaalat Payment site in Islamabad today to kick off payments to 7 million beneficiaries.

SAPM Dr. Sania Nishtar briefed the Prime Minister about several measures that have been taken to improve the quality of payments and to ensure protection against cyber-attacks. This time round, women can access banks and take money out from ATMs. “The Ehsaas payment system was so designed to provide maximum options to the beneficiaries including the first-time introduction of the option to draw money from a biometric ATM.

This meant that vulnerable women will no longer be hostage to corrupt agent and touts who tend to deduct money”, said Dr. Sania, while briefing the PM. The Ehsaas Kafaalat payment will be made in phases. Phase I has commenced today where payments would start for 4.3 million women beneficiaries.

Each beneficiary will be paid Rs. 12,000 covering the period July 2020 to December 2020. Combined payment for 6 months is being made. PM has already given approval to increase this number to seven million women which means seven million households will benefit. Payments to additional beneficiaries will be made December 2020 onwards and the process will be completed in the current fiscal year.

During the visit, the PM was also shown the trial run of the operations of “Ehsaas One Woman One Bank Account”. From next year onwards, Ehsaas Kafaalat beneficiaries will have the option of either drawing their money or saving money into digital wallets. For the first time, the poorest women in Pakistan will have the option to save their payments. “We will have to focus on financial literacy to ensure that women draw maximum benefit from this empowering initiative”, said Dr. Sania.

Further adding, she stated, “Financial inclusion is a central goal of Ehsaas and key to unlocking the potential of millions of the most disadvantaged women, in Pakistan. By providing individuals with access to secure, useful and affordable financial products and services like transactions, payments, savings, credit and insurance, we are giving them the financial security required to escape poverty and create a better life for themselves and their families.” As part of an efficient digital system for Kafaalat, payments will also be possible at point of Sales at retail points through machines which authenticate biometrically. Alongside, in the interest of transparency and integrity, a number of innovative reforms have recently been introduced including device restrictions, new protocols for user authentication, systems based geo-tagging and fencing disbursement timing block, and system generated electronic printed receipts for fund withdrawal so that beneficiaries can see the exact amount of funds that have been transferred in their accounts, and are empowered.

Further, aiming to protect the payment system and empower Kafaalat recipients, the partnering banks have been asked to make sure that the quality of biometric machines at retailer touchpoints is in accordance with international standards. Other significant improvements to safeguard transparent flow of Kafaalat funds include retailers’ trainings, complaints resolution mechanism, real time reporting of transactions and dashboards have been created for alerts and for information sharing about how and where the money is being disbursed.

Dr. Sania herself attended trainings of retailers last week to learn about their perspective firsthand. In Pakistan, most of the digitally and financially excluded segments are destitute women. Ehsaas Kafaalat ensures financial and digital inclusion of deserving women across the country. Changing lives of millions of women, ‘Ehsaas One Woman One Account Initiative’ will help the marginalized people plan for everything from long-term goals to unexpected emergencies.

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