The future of mobile commerce in Pakistan – a developing country having 90+ million adults, 100+ million mobile phone users and 20+ million internet subscribers looks promising despite of the fact that the country is fighting war against terrorism, poverty and unstable economic conditions. The success stories of online shopping websites including Daraz.pk, Kaymu.pk, Homeshopping.pk and many others, in short span of time not only represent the urge and desire of people to shop at convenience and comfort, but also the opportunities for new players to serve ever increasing online shoppers.
Interestingly, Pakistani online buyers prefer to pay cash on delivery – the most preferred mode of payment opted by 95% of online shoppers, instead of paying online in advance using credit or debit cards. Despite of positive financial inclusion initiatives by the local and foreign banks, so far less than 10% adults maintain bank accounts; and there are only 1 million credit card holders and 5 million debit card holders in the entire country with a population of 200+ million. Undocumented parallel economy is an additional challenge faced by the government which should be addressed on highest priority along with infrastructure development.
Moreover, real-time processing of payments, on-time delivery to customers, efficient supply chain and customer support services pose more challenges to mobile commerce industry due to lower literacy rate, urgency, availability of skilled labor and domain expertiese. Since the talented nation is in process of learning, I am sure to observe significant improvements in next 18 to 24 months as competition is on rise resulting in further increasing customer experience and service levels.
The main driver of mobile commerce industry is smartphone penetration (‘the potential customer’). According to PTA, smartphone imports significantly increased compared to last year (FY2014) and it is expected that Pakistan will have more than 40 million smartphone users by end 2016 i.e., exceeding entire population of Sudan in Africa or Argentina in South America. Approximately 10+ million potential mobile commerce audience verily offers enormous potential for new entrants, create employment opportunities to establish and grow in online marketplace.