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It may not be wrong to say that historically banks have emerged the biggest users of ICT technology. They had mainframe computers in sixties, which were not only used for their own work but also used for billing by the utility companies. Introduction of personal/minicomputers (as intelligent terminals), development of local area networks, deployment of DSL and internet changed the entire outlook of the banking sector. The requirement to remain compliant with the global standards forced the local banks to invest heavily in technology but clients emerged the biggest beneficiary. It may be said that banks are charging very high service charges but with the growing competition these charges are expected to be rationalized.

Payment systems are fundamental to the functioning of the economy. Their efficient functioning for allowing transactions to be completed safely and on time makes a key contribution to overall economic performance. Efficient payment systems are vital to the optimal performance of financial markets. The efficient and effective operations of payment systems are requirement for meeting both the business needs of the society and personal banking requirements of the public. Overseeing the payment systems is an integral part of the State Bank of Pakistan's wider responsibilities for stability of the financial system in Pakistan.

Summary of Payment Systems Quarterly Review, October-December 2010 prepared by State Bank of Pakistan provides some very interesting facts. Pakistan Real-time Interbank Settlement Mechanism (PRISM) operating in the country has 42 direct participants. During the quarter, the volume of transactions was 81,363 but value of transactions was Rs19,842 billion. Now 7,036 bank branches offer Real-time Online Banking (RTOBs) out of a total of 9,483 branches operating in the country. The RTOBs conducted over 18 million transaction amounting to Rs5,107 billion. As against this over 88 million transactions were conducted through paper based payments and the aggregate value of transactions was Rs39,067 billion.

Another way of gauging the growing use of technology is the existing number of credit and debit/ATM cards. At end December 20101 total number of credit cards exceeded 1.5 million and number of ATM\debit cards were more than 11.6 million. The numbers looks small when compared with total population of the country. The low numbers can be attributed to low literacy rate in the country and concentration of accountholders and ATM machines in urban areas. Number of Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) is still 4,734. Total number of transactions processed through ATMs was 32.6 million and valued at Rs287,492 million having an average value of Rs8,804.

The two latest services include internet banking and mobile phone banking. At present, 22 banks provide internet based banking facility. Since it requires the client to be technology savvy having computer and an Internet connection the number and value of transactions have remained rather low. During the quarter less than one million transactions were concluded having an aggregate value of Rs44,753 million. The concept of mobile phone banking is new but keeping in view the large number of mobile phones in use the service is likely to pick at a very fast pace. During the quarter end December 2010, eleven banks providing mobile banking facility conducted 766,932 transactions having aggregate value of Rs1,678 million.


Dr. Phillip Stiles who teaches People Management at Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, was in Karachi for conducting a two-day Executive Education Programme for Karachi School for Business and Leadership (KSBL), on Best Practice in Managing People, for top corporate executives. He has developed the Global Human Resource Research Alliance; a research group involving 30 major globally recognized companies such as IBM, Proctor and Gamble, Unilever, Siemens, British Telecom, General Mills and IKEA. His research focuses on Management of Change, Organizational Culture and Succession Management. Dr. Stiles consults for a number of organisations in both the private and public sector. The course was attended by Directors and Operational Heads from prominent multinational and national companies across various industry sectors including pharmaceuticals, chemicals and health management.

The participants had some very intense discussions on the different ways of performance evaluations and whether identifying n organisation's high potential staff can become counterproductive. The two days were spent in learning about how to attract, nurture and retain talent, and management of your staff performance. Finally, to cap all this learning, the participants discussed their individual career development. Several participants discussed about conducting customized executive education programmes for their organizations by KSBL.

Of the upcoming KSBL Executive Education courses the next two are "Enterprise Performance Management" on April 19 - 20 and "Achieving Excellence in Human Resources Management" on May 10 - 11, 2011. The Karachi School for Business and Leadership (KSBL) and Cambridge Judge Business School have entered into a strategic collaboration whereby Cambridge provides faculty to teach Executive Education courses at KSBL, and has taken a lead role in setting up the graduate management school including strategic guidance, faculty recruitment, teaching methodology, curriculum design, technology support and research development.
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Publication:Pakistan & Gulf Economist
Date:Apr 10, 2011

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