Karandaaz Pakistan is thrilled to announce its request for proposals for the 2023 Challenge Round - Karandaaz Discovery Challenge, exclusively dedicated to Digital Financial Services (DFS) Research. This unique challenge round features a grant to support pioneering research in emerging domains of digital financial services. Through this challenge round, Karandaaz's objective is to provide support for research that not only addresses current knowledge gaps but also fosters inventive ideas and offers solutions driven by insights. The ultimate aim is to harness the momentum generated by recent developments and further enrich the DFS ecosystem in Pakistan. Therefore, the applicants’ proposed solutions are expected to address the following objectives:

Thematic Areas

Karandaaz invites applicants to submit their research proposals within ONE of the following areas of focus:

Digital Banks - Leveraging Infrastructure for Innovation

Digital banks have a very good opportunity in Pakistan. They can acquire customers and sell their products without the large investment
that is required for a brick-and-mortar structure. However, where lending will be an advantage (compared to traditional banks and
NBFCs), deposit collection will be a challenge without this same brick-and-mortar structure. Under this theme, applicants will be
required to explore how these digital banks (taking examples from other jurisdictions) can leverage existing infrastructure like RAAST
and Secured Transaction Registry (STR) or introduce their own innovative approaches towards payments, lending, saving products, and
other relevant financial services. Research under this theme will address an information or knowledge gap such that it benefits the
entire DFS ecosystem.

Enhancing Offline Payments for Low Connectivity Areas in Pakistan

Poor connectivity and a lack of reliable communication infrastructure in various regions of Pakistan pose significant challenges and
impede progress toward realising a cashless and inclusive financial ecosystem. In addition, cellular connectivity is also very limited and poor in remote regions of the country. Under this theme, the research challenge focuses on exploring innovative solutions to enable
offline, channel-agnostic digital payments through RAAST, in regions with limited connectivity. These solutions should be relevant to
Pakistan’s development context and should be aligned with the national-level objectives of the National Financial Inclusion Strategy

To apply for the grant, please submit your proposal by emailing it at the following address: kdc@karandaaz.com.pk, with the subject line “Proposal Submission – Karandaaz Discovery Challenge” before the deadline, 14th December 2023. Please refer to the proposal submission guidelines provided in the Terms of Reference.
Terms of Reference for the Karandaaz Discovery Challenge can be accessed here.
For any related queries, please feel free to email us at kdc@karandaaz.com.pk

Key dates

20th November 2023
Applications Open
14th December 2023
Applications Close


For this challenge round, there is no defined eligibility criteria. Karandaaz welcomes proposals from all entities, individuals or firms, with relevant expertise and experience, that propose innovative and solution-oriented research ideas. In case of a firm apply, the pre-qualification criteria are provided as follows:

  • Applicant firms must be formally registered and have a valid NTN number.
  • Firm must have an operational history of at least 2 years.

Applicants will be selected through a proposal evaluation process. The evaluation criteria are provided in the Terms of Reference.

The time span for carrying out the study under this grant challenge is 4 to 6 months.

The Grant has a provision for two potential winners.

The total funding available to each potential winner is up to PKR 3.5 million.

Being in an idea phase is fine as long as you have a well-conceptualised research topic and a robust methodology along with a strong team where co-founders complement each other’s strengths. They are both pre-requisites in order to qualify.

No, you will not be eligible to apply. The research should address one of the broad themes defined.

For any further questions, write to us at kdc@karandaaz.com.pk.

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