ISLAMABAD    -   Her Majesty Queen Máxima will visit Pakistan from November 25 to 27 as special advocate of the UN Secretary-General for Inclusive Financing for Development (UNSGSA).

In a series of meetings, she will discuss the progress of access to financial services to improve the economic position of the country’s inhabitants, a statement received here on Friday from Pakistan Embassy in The Hague, Netherlands said.

Queen Máxima visits Pakistan at the invitation of the government. It is a follow-up to the UN visit in February 2016.

Queen Máxima focuses, among other things, on the importance of financial services for women. Only seven per cent them have a bank account and gender-based data collection is needed to understand their specific access and use needs.  Another way to connect more people is to digitise government payments such as social benefits. In addition, “fintech” offers great possibilities for simple banking, for example via a mobile phone.

To be able to do this safely and efficiently, changes to regulations are also needed to ensure privacy, among other things.

About 21 per cent of adults in Pakistan now have a bank account, in 2014 this was 13 per cent (Global Findex). Despite this increase, 99 million Pakistanis still do not have access to financial services such as a bank or savings account, insurance, loans, pensions or digital payment methods.

This limits their chances of development. This particularly concerns people in poverty situations, women, small businesses and people in remote agricultural areas.

During her stay in Pakistan, Queen Máxima will also talk with, among others, international development partners, representatives from the fintech sector, Governor State Bank of Pakistan Reza Baqir, Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Finance Adviser to the Prime Minister and Usman Mubin, Chairman of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA).

She is expected to call on President Dr Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan.

She will be present at the launch of the “Micropayments Gateway”.

This is a central bank initiative to reduce the cost of small payments in order to stimulate digital payments, in particular for people in poverty situations.  In addition, she pays a field visit to a project developed within the CEO Partnership for Economic Inclusion (CEOP).

CEOP is an informal partnership of 10 international companies from different sectors to improve access to financial services and increase market potential.

They met for the first time in January 2018 at the invitation of Queen Máxima at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

In Lahore, Queen Máxima will visit a number of projects that focus on digital financial services that, among other things, contribute to the development of entrepreneurs. Since 2009, Queen Máxima, as a UN special advocate, has been committed to making financial services accessible to all, including low-income groups and small and medium-sized businesses, and thus increasing their chances of economic and social development, the statement said.