A few days ago, at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, Mastercard announced a strategic collaboration with NADRA to optimize electronic payments functionality. Supposedly, the move will allow Pakistanis to carry out financial transactions and receive government disbursements by utilizing the unique 13-digit identification number of their identity card.
However, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) is now investigating the agreement amid concerns over NADRA and the security of the national database. The agreement has raised a few concerns because NADRA has collaborated with a company that does not have its servers in Pakistan.
According to sources, NADRA didn’t take any regulatory approvals either before the joint venture that does not fall in its jurisdiction. And the fact that the agreement was signed in Switzerland was also has also surprised a few people.
NADRA does not have any type of authority to enable such a payment service. And to have such a type of agreement, it needs to acquire prior approval from the central bank. However, despite signing the agreement, NADRA still has not approached the central bank for this matter.
According to an anonymous NADRA official, the agreement will be consisting of 3 parties; NADRA, MasterCard and Faysal Bank. The only reason to include Faysal Bank in the agreement is to meet the regulatory requirements of the State Bank of Pakistan. Meanwhile, MasterCard was silent about the role of any player in the agreement.
To encourage financial inclusion in the country, we shall welcome any arrangement in compliance with the legal and regulatory requirements for financial transactions – SBP
Furthermore, NADRA also has not obtained any kind of necessary approval for the Pakistan Remittance Initiative and without its authorization, it cannot receive remittances from abroad.