7 Million Heroes in 70 years

The spring locks of my grandma’s attache case stretched like a cat, when I ordered them to open. Toiled by years of hard work, they had lost their recoil and sounded a warning for opening a treasure chest which did not belong to me. Neatly, stacked in there were separate stacks of letters from her six sons of whom my dad’s were the most distinguishable. They were the blue aerogram letters that I had grown up seeing at my dad’s desk. I immediately recognized them. It is difficult to understand how could one fill those leaves of paper without with an autocorrect featured software and printer, but with only a pen and ink of emotions.

Dad moved to Saudi Arabia in 1966 as a young pediatrician from his government job in a remote town in South Punjab. Those were the days when the King’s Landing (overwhelmed by the GOT Season 7) was being built by hundreds of my fellow country men in the fields of medicine, engineering and education. Another of my uncle went to build the Queen’s Landing in UK and another one to the Green’s Landing posted as an army captain in the East Pakistan (fills me with grief on the 70th Independence day for what we lost only after 24 years of independence). The stories of my uncles are for another day when I unpack their letters..

Grandma had a lot reading to do. The boys treasured a great bond with their mother. The letters were old and many. Schooled by a great mom, almost all the letters were written in beautiful handwriting with cut nib pens. They were stocked neatly with grace into packs covered in a plastic envelop binded with a rubber band. The rubber band lay there now melted on the envelope, like a dutiful soldier with a sprawled hands protecting an unaffectionate intrusion into his motherland.

With teary eyes when I opened the first of my dad’s scriptures, a tale of how my Rome was built unravelled infront of me. The struggle of defending Pakistani identity in a foreign land was bigger than the struggle of winning economic freedom. Month over month the hard earned money helped my aunts get married and the younger uncles complete their education. Like my father, there are more than 7 million expatriate heroes of Pakistan who go through this struggle everyday.

Our heroes keep our green lights blinking. Every year they send almost $19Bln home to their families home through banking channels.

Even with the quick options of account/wallet credits using IBFT from 1Link powered by @TPSWorldWide, the cash over counter is still the most in-demand transfer option for cross border remittances. As per industry insights, atleast 50% of the home remittances in the country are collected in cash from the bank branches or from the exchange company locations. The Agent banking/mobile money network though reaching 300,000+ locations in the country have not been able to contribute as a cashout access point for the home remittances. The reason is the average transaction size of ~USD300 per transaction.

The liquidity availability at the agent of PKR 25,000- 30,000 is a challenge considering the only way to source the agent till is the funds from selling the merchandise. Also the 0.7-1% commission expectation of the agent (possible in a domestic remittance of average transaction size of ~Pkr 4300) against the disbursement is not viable for the MFS service provider.

The human centric operations for remittance payouts have not been productive. ATMs can prove to be a simpler and cost effective answer. Considering the impact of ATMs in financial inclusion and increasing the reach of financial service points, regulator is in a process of introducing regulations to license White Label ATM Operators.

For remittance payouts through ATMs, the challenge is the KYC diligence of the beneficiary at the payout location. How can the beneficiary will be authenticated in the absence of a human agent. We have taken an attempt to crack the code with our #DigiCheQ service. (Read JIT remittances blog post ).

With our verified money transfer service built on GSMA’s personal identity initiative #Mobile Connect the beneficiary is able to withdraw funds from the ATM even without a formal bank account/wallet by authenticating herself from Teleco data (Read first blog in this series).


Using the #Azure cloud hosted service the connected financial institution/exchange house can validate the beneficiary identity with a mobile number. The beneficiary is flashed with a USSD/SMS permission message to share her name and Citizen ID from the telco data. The One time Passcode is issued by the overseas correspondent to the sender for onward transmission to beneficiary.

The DigiCheQ is created from the in-coutry correspondent in the beneficiary name sent on her mobile number. With the two factor of authentication, the beneficiary can withdraw funds from the ATM of the acquirer institution connected to the DigiCheQ network. This is done with the help of Mobile Connect APIs of the connected telecom operator.

Mobile Connect is live with 52 mobile operators in 29 countries reaching East & South Asia, APAC, Europe, MENA and Latam. With our early deployments live with China Mobile, other operators including Mobilink, Telenor adoption is in progress. DigiCheQ is now expanding to integrate the Mobile Connect APIs of global operators to enable JIT remittances i.e. Just In time Remittances

Would you need to understand a detailed commercial case as an Exchange House, Correspondent Bank, Acquirer or Telecom Operator and want to join the DigiCheQ network, please reach me at [email protected] or WhatsApp +923008235898.

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