Queen Máxima to visit Pakistan to promote access to financial services

Her Majesty Queen Máxima will visit Pakistan from Monday 25 November to Wednesday 27 November in her capacity as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development. She will be discussing progress made on providing access to financial services with the aim of improving the economic position of people in Pakistan. 

Queen Máxima is undertaking the visit at the invitation of the Pakistani government. It is a follow-up to the UN visit that took place in February 2016 (see Government Information Service news item no. 24, 2016). In Pakistan 21% of adults now have a bank account, up from 13% in 2014 (Global Findex). Despite this increase, 99 million Pakistanis still have no access to financial services such as bank or savings accounts, insurance, loans, pensions or digital payment methods. This limits their opportunities for development. Those most affected are people living in poverty, women, small business owners and people in remote rural areas.

One of Queen Máxima’s priorities is ensuring that women can access financial services. Only 7% of women have a bank account. Gender data needs to be gathered to gain insight into their specific needs in terms of access and use. Greater inclusion can also be achieved by digitising government payments such as social benefits. Fintech – the use of technology in financial services – offers an array of options for simple methods of banking, for instance via mobile phones. Regulations need to be adapted to safeguard privacy and ensure security and efficiency.

In Islamabad Queen Máxima will speak with international development partners, representatives from the fintech sector, the governor of the State Bank of Pakistan Reza Baqir, the prime minister’s financial advisor Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and the chairman of the National Database & Registration Authority (NADRA), Usman Mubin. She will also meet with President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Queen Máxima will attend the launch of the Micro Payment Gateway, an initiative of the State Bank aimed at reducing the costs of small payments and boosting digital transactions to benefit people living in poverty in particular. She will also pay a field visit to a project set up by the CEO Partnership for Economic Inclusion (CEOP). The CEOP is an informal partnership of ten international businesses in various sectors, working to improve access to financial services and expand market potential. The CEOP met for the first time during the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2018 at Queen Máxima’s invitation. In Lahore Queen Máxima will visit several projects with a focus on digital financial services that help business owners develop their businesses.

Queen Máxima has been the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA) since 2009. In this role she works worldwide to promote access to financial services for all, including low-income groups and small and medium enterprises, with the aim of improving their economic and social development opportunities.