KARACHI: Caretaker Federal Minister for Information Technology, Dr. Umar Saif, has announced that significant strides anticipated within a month concerning the integration of global payment platforms, PayPal and Stripe, for currency transactions in Pakistan.
Speaking at the cooperation agreement signing ceremony between HBL and Pasha in Karachi, Dr. Saif informed journalists that a robust business case has formulated for payment giants like PayPal and Stripe. This case asserts Pakistan’s removal from FATF’s gray list, emphasizing the country’s strong financial structure. He emphasized that Pakistan, with its financial reforms overseen by the State Bank, can potentially earn $10 billion annually, making it an attractive market for global platforms.
Dr. Saif also assured the completion of groundwork to introduce 5G technology in Pakistan before the next elected government takes office. He highlighted the current limitations in 4G penetration, where only 6,000 out of 56,000 towers fiber-connected. To address this, the government plans to add 300 MHz to the existing spectrum, which will be auctioned to telecom companies, including the 5G band. This spectrum auction will pave the way for the introduction of 5G technology in Pakistan.
Addressing the telecom industry’s revenue challenges, Dr. Saif mentioned that investments in spectrum and infrastructure vital. He noted that Pakistan’s average user revenue, at $0.7 to $0.8 (approximately Rs. 250), has the lowest in the world. To boost revenue, telecom companies now permitted to share radio towers through active spectrum sharing. Additionally, they have granted the flexibility to lay fiber optic networks along national highways and railways, encouraging investments and revenue growth.
Regarding the spectrum auction, Dr. Saif revealed that an inter-ministerial committee, approved by the cabinet, has formed to resolve legal issues related to the auction. International consultants hired to create an auction framework and invite telecom companies to participate, aiming to conclude the auction within the next eight months.
The minister emphasized that these initiatives vital for Pakistan’s technological advancement and economic growth, ensuring the country remains competitive in the global digital landscape.