SBP Extends the Condition of Biometric Verification Till December 2020

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has directed banks and digital financial institutions (DFIs) to update their customer records to ensure efficient and reliable communications and to meet the requirements of Anti Money Laundering/Combating Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT).

SBP has revised AML/CFT requirements to facilitate customers experiencing problems with operating bank accounts, ensuring execution of financial transactions, and getting financial services from banks/DFI.

Because of that, some revisions are being made in the existing AML/CFT requirements to facilitate them. SBP stated:

Banks/Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) may use the NADRA Verisys in place of obtaining certified photocopies of required NADRA identity documents and biometric verifications wherever required as per SBP AML/CFT Regulations including for request of activation of dormant accounts by customers. They should retain the NADRA Verisys for record-keeping requirements (digitally or hard copy).

Banks/DFIs should update records of their customers with regard to their postal address or email address or registered mobile number or landline number.

They may use either of these mediums for ensuring efficient and reliable communications with their customers, including wherever customer request/instruction was desired as per the requirement of AML/CFT regulation including for activation of dormant accounts.

Further, in order to help mitigate the risk of the spread of COVID-19, which may arise from physical contact/interaction during account opening activities, some relaxation was granted to banks/DFIs.

Keeping in view the ongoing impact of COVID-19 pandemic in the country, SBP has also decided to extend the validity of some measures from 30th June 2020 to December 31, 2020.

The requirement of originator’s and beneficiary’s address in wire transfer vide regulation-3, para (3c & 3e) of AML/CFT regulations for banks/DFIs have been amended and now there is no need of addresses of originator’s and beneficiary’s.

Bank/DFI shall just include the originator’s CNIC/passport number and the beneficiary’s CNIC/passport number in the message or payment instruction which should accompany or remain with the wire transfer throughout the payment chain.

These instructions are enforceable with effect from July 1, 2020.

Measures to Combat COVID-19

Keeping in view the ongoing impact of COVID-19 pandemic in the country, the central bank has decided to extend the validity of the following instructions of SBP till December 31, 2020:

  • Biometric verification of legacy branchless banking Level “1” accounts.
  • Cash withdrawal/cash deposit up to Rs. 25,000/- per month in branchless banking Level “0” account without biometric verification.
  • Non-applicability of daily transaction limit on branchless banking Level “0” account on payments to trusted merchants (such as schools, hospitals, utility companies, merchants, etc.).
  • Biometric and business verifications at the time of agents’ onboarding through digital channels.
  • Monthly transaction and account balance limits of Rs. 500,000/- for non-biometrically verified merchants.

The timeline for phasing out person-to-person transfers through branchless banking channels, as mandated vide BPRD Circular No. 10 of 2019, has been extended from June 30, 2020, to December 31, 2020.