State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has revised the limit of transactions and maximum balance of the Level 0 and Level 1 accounts of branchless banking system by up to 100% to facilitate customers for maintain their accounts.
Level 0 Accounts:
Accordingly, for Level 0 the daily transaction limit has been increased to Rs 25,000 from Rs 15,000; monthly limit to Rs 40,000 from Rs 25,000; and yearly limit to Rs 200,000 from Rs 120,000.
Level 0 account holders can now maintain a maximum balance of Rs 200,000, which was previously Rs 100,000.
Level 1 Accounts:
For Level 1, the daily transaction limit has been increased to Rs 50,000 from Rs 25,000; monthly limit to Rs 80,000 from Rs 60,000; and yearly limit to Rs 800,000 from Rs 500,000.
Level 1 account holders can now maintain the maximum balance of Rs 400,000, which was limitless previously.
Requirements for Opening a Branchless Banking Account:
In a revised Branchless Banking Regulations 2016, the conditions of opening up Level 0 accounts have been maintained with basic requirement of customers data including digital photo of customers and scan copy of original CNIC etc.
The central bank has introduced electronic verification for Level 1 Account, which is also called a Biometric Account.
In this regard, customers need to provide their cell numbers whereas majority of their details are transferred automatically to banks due to biometric verification system.
SBP also enhanced the fund transfers limit to Rs 50,000 per month from Rs 15,000 per month provided that transactions are made through Biometric Verification System of sender and receiver of the payment. However, those agent lacking with BVS facility can only process transactions of the previous limit of Rs15,000 per month.
These transactions could be made between Account to Person and Person-to-Person (P2P) including the option of Inter Bank Fund Transfer (IBTF).
In the revamped regulations, SBP annulled the Level 3 Account service whereas conditions and process for Level 2 accounts were similar to previously defined regulations of branchless banking.
Scope of alternate delivery channels and technologies has been expanded through revised Regulations to include 3G and 4G spectrum, POS terminals, internet banking and ATM/debit cards etc. for providing branchless banking services.
Banks Asked to Provide Proper Infrastructure for Branchless Banking Services:
Banks associated with branchless banking have been asked to put in place risk based information/data security requirements as well as channels like mobile phones, SMS, USSD, mobile applications, 3G or 4G, WAP, SAT etc. based on the risk associated with each Level of branchless banking account of the customers.
They should, at all times, monitor safety, security and efficiency of their systems’ components.
SBP has revamped Branchless Banking Regulations to keep pace with the international branchless banking practices and to achieve the targets set out in National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) of Pakistan. This regulatory framework outlines the minimum requirements to be adopted by banks offering branchless banking in the market place.
According to revised regulations, the board of directors of banks would be responsible for providing the strategic direction and maintain an oversight while senior management will institute necessary internal controls and ensure adherence to applicable laws and regulations.
The central bank is endeavoring to promote financial inclusion in the country by expanding outreach of banking services to all segments of the society. According to the plan, SBP has launched NFIS in 2015 wherein a target of 50% growth in bank accounts by adult population by the year 2020 has been set out to enhance the outreach of basic financial services to unbanked/underserved population. In this connection, branchless banking is the main driver and most effective tool for achievement of targets set in NFIS.
The complete revamped Branchless Banking Regulations 2016 could be viewed here.