Following the internet shutdown, Pakistan’s digital payment systems suffered a major blow as point-of-sale transactions routed through the country’s main operators, 1LINK and Habib Bank Limited (HBL), plummeted by approximately 50% the day after former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s arrest. The country was embroiled in widespread protests after the detention, prompting authorities to shut down mobile internet services.
The significant drop in digital transactions was primarily attributed to the suspension of mobile broadband services, which affected footfall at the limited number of stores that remained open amidst the political turmoil. According to Reuters, 1LINK and HBL cited the mobile broadband shutdown as the main reason for the slump.
The protests following Khan’s arrest have had a profound impact on commercial activity in Pakistan. The interior ministry ordered mobile data services to be shut down on Tuesday night, marking the longest continuous shutdown of its kind in a country where communication suspensions are often used as a means to quell unrest.
The situation highlights the critical role that digital payments play in modern economies and underscores the need for reliable and uninterrupted digital infrastructure. As Pakistan continues to grapple with political unrest and instability, the impact on the country’s digital economy remains uncertain.