The Challenges & Potential For E-commerce

Potential of the E-commerce Sector

Pakistan's e-commerce is expected to cross a 1 billion dollars benchmark by 2020, as predicted by an earlier Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) survey. Yet Pakistan's e-commerce ability is much greater than what we are expecting it to be.

Egypt is considered to have similar macroeconomic dynamics as Pakistan, where the e-commerce industry stands at $5 billion, similarly Iran's e-commerce revenues stood at 18.5 billion dollars regardless of foreign sanctions and disturbing economic conditions. This illustrates that Pakistan's e-commerce industry 's ability is much greater than current 1 billion dollars’ expectations.

E-commerce Sector of Pakistan

Pakistan's e-commerce sector dates back to 2001, when Beliscity took the groundbreaking initiative. Many other players subsequently entered the e-commerce market including:

  • Shophive
  • Symbios
  • HomeShopping

The rise of smartphone users and the internet also attracted foreign players, and OLX started operations in Pakistan in 2010, then these three came in.

  • Daraz
  • Foodpanda
  • Careem
  • Uber

There are 162 million smartphone users in Pakistan, and 71 million 3 G/4 G subscribers, most of whom are an untapped asset for the e-commerce industry. This makes the network of telecommunications an important stakeholder in achieving this untapped resource by eliminating obstacles and solving problems.

Payment System as a Huge Obstacle

The payment system was one of the obstacles for consumers making online transactions, compounded by a lack of access to banking services. According to report of the world bank, there are only 240 bank accounts out of 1000 adults, which is far below other countries, and even fewer numbers have access to debit or credit card facilities.

It is where creative innovations from Pakistan 's telecom firms, such as JazzCash & EasyPaisa benefited the e-commerce market. These forms of payment revolutionized the idea of online shopping. Today customers can pay without a bank account, from buying tickets for a trip from Pakistan Railways Website to buying clothes from Al-Karam Studio or some Daraz home appliances. This has taken the e-commerce market to a whole new level.


The e-commerce industry in Pakistan faces many other challenges and if all stakeholders contribute by working together then it can easily cross 1 billion dollars by the year 2020.

Related: The Economy and the Entrepreneur

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