State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has decided to allow Payment Service Providers (PSPs) to own and operate White Label ATMs or Automatic Banking Machines (ABMs) aimed at increasing banking outreach and services throughout the country.
ATM is one of the most widely used access/payment points that caters to needs of the general public.
However, the operation and maintenance of these ATMs is a big challenge for banks. Hence, White Label ATMs can catalyze the growth of offsite ATMs to bridge the gap at a faster pace.
White label ATMs are owned and operated by non-banking entities. They are usually referred to as White Label ATM Operator (WLAO). The WLAO operates their ATMs in Off-Us mode It can become a member of an ATM Switch (Payment Systems Operator- PSO) for routing and settlement of transactions while the service fee and place of installation is decided by WLAO itself.
Guidelines for WLAO
In order to encourage the growth of off-site ATMs through White Label ATMs, SBP has developed a draft of “White Label ATMs Guidelines.”
This guideline will provide a regulatory direction to prospective investors/service providers who intend to apply for In-principle approval under the Rules for Payment Systems Operators (PSOs) and Payment Service Providers (PSPs).
The WLAO are specialized entities with expertise in ATM deployment and management. They generate revenues from fees charged on ATM transactions.
The WLAO will need to fulfill certain requirements before they begin their commercial launch, including product offering, operational readiness, telecommunication connectivity, cash management, settlement of funds, pricing, dispute resolution, regulatory reporting and record retention.
WLAO shall be allowed to offer following Payment Services through White Label ATMs. However, any product offering not listed below shall require prior approval from SBP.
- Cash withdrawal
- Cash deposit
- Fund Transfer (IBFT)
- Utility Bill Payments
- Account statements
- Balance inquiry.
In order to ensure smooth operations for the facilitation of customers, the WLAO shall comply with certain requirements to attain operational readiness:
- Obtain membership of any ATM Switch authorized under the Rules for Payment Systems Operators and Payment Service Providers under a mutually agreed term.
- Integrate its ATM controller with ATM Switch and furnish successful UAT sign off to SBP prior to commercial launch.
- Establish dual network connectivity with ATM Switch to ensure network redundancy.
With regard to cash management, WLAO will enter into an agreement with Financial Institution(s) for an adequate supply of genuine and ATM-Fit currency notes from their cash processing center(s).
However, they will have to ensure cash management and feeding of ATM fit notes under CCTV camera recording.
WLAO shall ensure adequate cash back-up arrangements to ensure availability of ATM services round the clock specifically during long weekends.
The WLAO, while considering the viability of its business model, may charge reasonable transaction fees from their customers or issuing banks (if banks are willing to absorb WLA transaction charges of their customers).
These charges shall be displayed at the time of initiating a transaction on ATM screen (both in Urdu and English languages). This will enable customers to know how much it will cost to make their transactions via a private ATM beforehand. The customer shall have the option to cancel the transaction in case the charges are not acceptable to him/her.
In line with its Vision 2020, SBP has taken a number of steps to increase ATM usage. The central bank is also hoping to promote the growth of ATMs and other electronic payment touch points in the country. The move to set up private ATMs in the country is yet another step towards this direction which is widely common in different cities.
The complete draft of guidelines on White Label ATMs could be viewed here.