Pakistan’s new ‘Smartphone Financing Policy’ promises wider access to mobile technology

The draft policy will be shared with telecom and fintech representatives, with Dr Saif confident it will improve smartphone access, reduce the digital divide, and make smartphones accessible to all citizens.

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Pakistan’s Ministry for Information Technology and Telecommunication (MoITT) has introduced the ‘Smartphone Financing Policy’ to make smartphones more accessible to a broader population through installments.

Extensive consultations have occurred with various stakeholders, including telecom companies, financial institutions, and regulatory bodies. Some telecom companies oppose the idea of a centralized system to block SIM cards associated with defaulters, but microfinance banks are enthusiastic about offering smartphones through installment plans.

Although certain stakeholders expressed reservations, the caretaker minister, Dr Umar Saif, is determined to put the policy into action, with the draft policy set to be shared with key representatives from telecom companies and fintech firms in the coming week. Dr Saif is confident that the policy will bring positive changes in smartphone accessibility through easy installment plans, further bridging the digital divide and promoting smartphone access for all citizens.

Why does it matter?

This initiative is a positive step to include more people in the digital world. However, there are significant challenges that could affect its success. Firstly, around 15% of the population in Pakistan can’t access the internet or use mobile phones. Additionally, cybercrimes are rising in the country, with over 100,000 complaints in 2022. This could potentially make people hesitant to embrace digital technology. These issues will require compelling solutions to ensure that the policy truly helps everyone get connected digitally.