Pakistan Post enters e-commerce eyeing turnaround

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KARACHI: Pakistan Post is on the road to restore and regain its lost glory as premium federal organisation by taking progressive initiatives such as e-commerce to live up to the expectations of the digital customers of the day, a minister said on Saturday.

“Meeting the ever-changing and rising customer expectations in the digitalised global market of the day is a huge challenge indeed,” Murad Saeed, minister for communications and postal services said at the launch of Pakistan Post’s e-commerce initiative.

“This initiative will create a win-win opportunity for the Postal Services of Pakistan in the flourishing e-commerce market.”

The minister said it was true the trend of physical or paper mail globally posed a threat to the traditional postal services but the flourishing parcel mail market in the shape of e-commerce had opened great vistas for this sector across the world.

“To improve its financial health and make it a commercially viable entity and profitable institution, we are capitalising on the strength of this organisation by utilising its vast footprint, wide and best delivery network, and its round-the-clock cash remittance service,” Saeed added.

The minister said in the first phase a fully fledged web portal i.e. Web Post Shop would be developed which would help make Pakistan Post a hub of commercial activities and a robust platform for collaborating with the players in the e-commerce market.

Naseer Ahmed Khan, director general Pakistan Post, said the service is striving to make a genuine turnaround by capturing a major chunk in the e-commerce market share to make itself a self-sustaining and vibrant entity.

He further reiterated that all efforts are being made to make this initiative a successful venture. This, he concluded, will turn Pakistan Post into a valuable national asset.

According to a State Bank of Pakistan’s report published in late October 2018, e-commerce industries posted a growth of 93.7 percent last year. The sales of local and international e-commerce merchants for FY2018 reached almost Rs40 billion.

The central also reported the number of registered e-commerce merchants is increasing with the passage of time.

It has been forecast that Pakistan’s e-commerce sales are projected to cross the $1 billion mark by 2020 as compared to $622 million recorded in 2017. Analysts say as the economy expands and internet penetration grows, a surge in e-commerce activity will follow.

In recent years, the payment and settlement systems of the country has been significantly changing on the account of central bank’s efforts to promote digital payments as alternative to cash.

New regulations such as Payment Systems Designation Framework, Guidelines for Clearing Operations, new rules for PRISM system, Electronic Fund Transfer Regulation and Guidelines for White Labels ATMs have been issued by SBP in the current fiscal year to provide a level playing field to all the stakeholders.

Pakistan has 153 million cellular subscribers, which is more than 73 percent of the total population of 207 million, out of which 61 million are 3G/4G users with total internet subscribers reaching 63 million.

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