Macro Bites

Macro Bite # 61

2 min read
The Covid-19 pandemic has permanently altered some spheres of business activity. One of those has been the rise in digital banking. Whereas previously online banking apps were seen as a novelty that could be occasionally useful, they have now become virtually indispensable for large numbers of Pakistanis.

Personally, I pay all my bills—electricity, gas, cell phone and internet—through a mobile banking app. Yes, sometimes it can be glitchy, while other times I’ve had to simply give up and try another day. But for the most part, it sure beats having to stand in line at the bank, or even downloading a separate app for each utility.
While mobile banking apps were always convenient, the onset of the pandemic has made them an essential service.

The State Bank, too, recognised this very early on in the pandemic, making inter-bank fund transfers
completely free. As a result, within the space of a year, the number of digital banking users has risen by 42%, the number of active users has risen by 72%, and the number of digital transactions by 58%.

What has your experience been with online banking apps in Pakistan, and have you started relying on them more since the beginning of the pandemic? Reply to this email and let me know!

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KSE-100 rose marginally this week, with the cement and tech sectors performing well. PKR depreciated further this week, amid rising imports in the country. Local gold prices rose again this week.

The annual change in Sensitive Price Index rose to 13.64% vs. 12.53% last week. The poorest of the country (Q1) continue to bear the brunt of increased prices, with a change of 17.20% vs. 13.06% for Q5. On a weekly basis, prices rose for all quintiles by 1.37%.

Increase in prices of Chicken (+7.67%), Onions (+23.35%) and Tomatoes (+20.38%) contributed to inflation this week. A fall in the price of Bananas (-3.09%) and Pulse Moong (-0.44%) lowered weekly inflation, while a fall in LPG prices (-2.59%) had the biggest impact in moderating inflation this week.

What Else We’re Reading (Local)

  • Can the success of the Kia Sportage finally break the monopoly of the Big Three—Honda, Suzuki and Toyota? (Profit)
  • With NATO troops completely pulling out of Afghanistan, the good times for Pakistan’s trucking industry have come to an end. (Samaa)

What Else We’re Reading (International)

  • Cryptocurrency use is surging in Afghanistan, as various Western banks and money-service businesses suspended operations in the country in the wake of the Taliban takeover. (WSJ)
  • One of the world’s biggest bauxite exporters, Guinea, witnessed a coup this week. But while bauxite is an essential element for aluminium, citizens of the west African country rarely saw the benefits of the thriving industry. (FT)



Asad Pabani

Journalist, researcher and documentary filmmaker. Prior works featured in Dawn, Soch Videos and Pioneers Post.

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