Press Release

Merchant payments via Raast discussed by financial industry leadership

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Muhammad Moin Ud Din
Published on
Feb 21, 2023

Karachi, SD (February 7, 2023): Ideate Innovation and Karandaaz hosted leadership of financial institutions from across Pakistan in an engagement workshop to discuss the deployment of Raast for peer-to-merchant (P2M) payments. Given Raast’s importance for the financial ecosystem of the country, the organizers aimed to engage relevant stakeholders in ideating industry-sensitive guidelines for expansion into the merchant space.  The two-day event was attended by senior representatives from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and 28 financial institutions, including banks, Electronic Money Institutions (EMIs) and fintech companies.

Raast, launched by the SBP as Pakistan’s first system for end-to-end, instant digital payments between individuals, businesses and government entities, is currently in its first phase: supporting peer-to-peer (P2P) payments.  The anticipated expansion into merchant payments is poised to be a gamechanger particularly for smaller merchants and micro-vendors that account for a large volume of transactions but have not yet adopted existing digital payment mechanisms. 

The event was opened on both days by senior personnel from the SBP who shared their perspective on the role of design in creating Pakistan’s digital payments ecosystem. Following this, Ideate’s team presented global and local case studies in digital payments and identified existing barriers. Participants were better prepared to think about digital payments holistically and also keep perspective of how Raast’s P2M features would benefit their customers. This discussion set the stage for workshop activities. 

The first exercise with stakeholders was on design trade-offs. Participants were given the opportunity to rank where they stood on a spectrum between two contrasting design choices relating to digital payments. These trade-offs covered critical issues relating to speed, ease-of-use, access, fraud prevention, standardization and customization.

“It was extremely encouraging to see representatives of organizations from across the Pakistani financial landscape collaborate on a shared goal: building a more accessible, equitable payments ecosystem in Pakistan,” shared Ideate Head of Design Ali Murtaza. “And while we got a lot of interesting insights from the design trade-offs exercise, one that stood out was the near consensus in the group about the need to design financial services that work for low-tech users in Pakistan.”

In the second session, the organizers had stakeholders write down their organization’s design principles, which led into a discussion with the larger group. Participants focused on context-specific principles to ensure a cohesive basis for design decisions. The ensuing discussion was a lively back-and-forth with finance leaders debating their different approaches while also attempting to reconcile similar strategies. 

Head of Digital Payments at Easypaisa Muhammad Asim Farooq felt that the workshop was

"truly insightful and eye-opening.” He shared: I was impressed by the level of engagement and active participation from stakeholders across the financial ecosystem, including banks, fintechs, and e-commerce platforms. Ideate Innovation, keeping up with their past record,  structured the workshop well and allowed for meaningful discussions on the potential trade-offs and design principles for Raast P2M payment experiences.

The organizers hoped stakeholder engagement would facilitate a viable and smooth roll-out of Raast’s P2M design guidelines. Such collaborations can also serve to drive industry confidence in the future of digital payments.