KARACHI: The number of micro-savers in Pakistan increased by more than one-fifth on a quarter-on-quarter basis at the end of March, latest data about the microfinance industry shows.
There were 10.2 million micro-savers at the end of the January-March quarter, up 20.1% from 8.5 million micro-savers at the end of 2014, according to the Pakistan Microfinance Network (PMN).
The value of savings with microfinance banks and institutions, however, remained flat on a quarterly basis. They amounted to Rs43.6 billion, up a nominal 0.3% from the preceding quarter.
According to the PMN commentary on the latest industry statistics, the surge in the number of savers was mainly supported by Tameer Microfinance Bank (TMFB) in January-March. It added 1.85 million new depositors during the period under review, reflecting an increase of 53%. AT the end of the last quarter, TMFB depositors constituted as many as 52% of total active depositors.
“The growth in depositors by TMFB can be attributed to the surge in branchless banking activities, especially the opening of mobile-wallet accounts, along with increasing government disbursements for safety net programmes,” the PMN report said.
The average amount that micro-savers kept in their accounts during the quarter was Rs4,265, which is 16.4% less than the comparable average for the preceding quarter. The decline is a result of microfinance banks adding new savers but failing to increase the value of deposits.
The gross loan portfolio of microfinance industry amounted to Rs73.7 billion at the end of March, which is up 10.5% from a quarter ago. There were more than 3.3 million active microfinance borrowers at the end of the first quarter of 2015 after their number increased 5.6% over the fourth quarter of 2014.
However, both the number of loans disbursed and the value of disbursements recorded a decline on a quarterly basis. The largest microfinance player in terms of loan portfolio is Khushhali Bank. Its gross loan portfolio grew by Rs1.2 billion to Rs13 billion with a market share of 18.2% at the end of Jan-March.
The overall penetration rate of the microfinance industry increased to 12.1% at the end of the Jan-Mar quarter from 11.5% at the end of the preceding quarter.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 24th, 2015.
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