Do you think your money is safe in your SIMSIM digital wallet? Well, it should be theoretically, but there still seems to be a long way to go in Pakistan before it gets as secure as a conventional bank ensures the safety of your money, at least the money doesn’t go away in most of the cases.

I am using SIMSIM digital wallet for over five months now since it was introduced to me at Lahore Eat Food Festival back in April 2017. I wouldn’t brag much, but the concept was really excellent and major missing factor in the digital financial ecosystem of Pakistan up till now. There, I was able to make payment swiftly at almost every outlet in the festival with just a QR Code scan.

For few months, the app remained dormant in my mobile when at the start of August, I planned to use it for my day to day spendings.

Although I was inspired by the concept of the app since its soft launch I was skeptical about its working as well since there was no trust worthy group on its back.

The app runs OK for small top ups and money exchanges among SIMSIM users; however, it is a pain in the neck and extremely unreliable at the same time for bigger transactions. The digital wallet doesn’t need an outsider to hack into the system for stealing your money; instead, its own system does the job and gives you a terrible experience, particularly at the time of making payment to some third party.

As a loyal customer, I have been sending my feedback to their management in hope to get a better digital wallet next time, and they have been receptive on many occasions. However, there are few vital things to be addressed that belong to the security of public money.

The system stole Rs. 10,000

It just happened again with me when I tried to transfer Rs. 10,000 from my Finca account to SIMSIM digital wallet. While doing so, I came across few “Insufficient funds” errors on my mobile screen before a text message from the Finca Bank landed with a message that the same amount had been deducted from my core account but never landed in my digital wallet. This is a sheer annoyance as I was in the middle of making some payment.

SIMSIM App Digital Wallet
I had the amount in wallet, it still shows insufficient funds error

The first instance had similarly happened on August 12 when I tried to transfer Rs. 10,000 from my Finca account to SIMSIM digital wallet. The system malfunctioned and debited Rs. 20,000 from the core account, shifted only half of it and took away the rest. The system further generated a couple of fake texts messages for telling me that I had made some payment, which I never did.

The amount was manually inserted back to my main account almost after a week but only when I registered a complaint to claim my money.

Later, upon my request, the bank gave me the following version as their reason of failure and the delay in giving back the payment.

The balance did not disappear rather the transaction got disrupted due to which the amount was debited from your core account and not credited into your Wallet. When you raised the complaint, the issue was investigated, and the amount then pushed manually into your account. This function is not automated and involves manual intervention hence the delay”.

In my opinion, there should be no need to push things manually. The software should act on its own in a claimed digital system.

Unable to pay electricity Bill

Soon as I opted to pay my electricity bill through SIMSIM digital wallet, the app gave me an error “Your bill is blocked. Please call help line”. The guy at helpline didn’t want to accept the system fault and rather persuaded me that I should contact LESCO to get it fixed.

Com’on SIMSIM, it is your service which you want us to use, why a consumer should run pillar to post to fix it??

SIMSIM App loading error
(L) When the app doesn’t load, it gives 404 error. (R) Error at the time of paying LESCO bill

SIMSIM App gives loading error

Loading of the app is not always a smooth ride, and you get to experience loading sign for many minutes before it goes back to the login screen and asks for the password again. There are days when you wouldn’t be able to log in, and only a server error can be seen on the mobile screen. In a country like Pakistan, where the retail network is more than happy to accept cash as the mode of payment, how would you make this app successful when in the middle of making payment, your consumer loses access to the funds.

Instead of accepting the actual reason the company sweetly responded, “the login problem can only occur when there is no internet connection.”

Their microfinance bank is more like a retail shop

Very few people in Pakistan have bank accounts, and the banking is a little complex for a common person over there. Almost every commercial bank tries to discourage a smaller customer, and this is why branchless banking backed by micro finance banks is spreading its wings in the country to make processes easier than conventional banks.

Opening a current account with Finca Microfinance Bank was not less than a hassle. It took them three days to open my account, and I had to visit them for two consecutive days due to the reason that the system was down and nothing could have executed. In those two days, the staff was ignorant of the account opening process, and the manager of the branch had nothing to say but to curse the HR people for sending untrained people at the branches.

Albeit, the account was opened technically and initial money was deposited into it on August 1st however, as of now, I haven’t received any account opening confirmation letter, let alone the ATM card and checkbook that I had also requested them.

I asked an official of the bank about this lazy attitude who commented as “micro finance banks are not meant to perform the way commercial banks do. Our core business is to lend small loans and not consumer account handling”.

Coming back to the SIMSIM digital wallet, other than the above collapses, there are many commendable features of this digital wallet that must not be ignored. Free transactions among SIMSIM users as well as other banks to a certain limit, a growing network of merchants who are supporting the payment system, integration with cinemas and transportations for buying tickets, ATM card support are the few.

I have also come across few customer reviews on Google Play Store who are calling the app ‘not secure,’ but I think Finja, the people behind the digital wallet, and Finca must take things seriously since public money will need more security features and seamless methods to do the transactions.

For earning the real trust, the app should perform at the time of need.

I am pretty hopeful the measures will be taken, and experience will get better. After all, the digital way of transactions we need to adapt if Pakistan has to witness an economic revolution.