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ITU, Karandaaz partner to extend Digital Financial Services to Women

Information Technology University (ITU) of Punjab has entered into an agreement with Karandaaz Pakistan to initiate three research projects through the Fintech Center established at ITU with an aim to “improve the existing knowledge on women’s use of digital financial services and the barriers they face”.

According to a statement issued to announce this agreement, “the research center will help develop a deeper understanding of the challenges related with financial inclusion and exploring the potential of data science and information communication technologies as a viable solution.”

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The three research projects will help in understanding and proposing solutions to mitigate the multiple barriers presumably faced by women in availing formal financial services. The research shall be conducted in Pakistan with technical collaboration between Digital Financial Services Research Group of the University of Washington, Seattle and the ITU faculty.

One of the researches will focus on viability of a mobile app to form a rotating savings and credit association of women that will help them save and borrow collectively. Another research will help in designing a digital financial system for business and personal use of micro entrepreneur women. The third research will focus on digital solutions to safeguard women against SMS frauds in Pakistan.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, which was also witnessed by a delegation of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Vice Chancellor of ITU Dr. Umar Saif said, “We envision partnering with local and international entities for financial inclusion through innovative applications of technology.”

“Joining hands with international development partners Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Karandaz for innovation and research in financial technology space is a welcome step,” the Chairman Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) said, adding that this collaboration would help Pakistan to reform the digital financial services especially with inclusion of women.

Karandaaz CEO Ali Sarfraz emphasized the role of digitization in providing the access of financial services to women.

“Pakistan needs to act immediately to ensure women’s participation in the process of development, and digital platforms can play a decisive role in bringing the financial services to women,” Sarfraz said.

Jason Lamb, a representative of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said, “We believe more knowledge and research will help trigger greater financial inclusion of women through technology in Pakistan.”

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