Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) issued two Third Party Service Provider (TPSP) licenses in 2018 to Virtual Remittance Gateway (VRG) (Pvt) Ltd and Digital Bridge (Pvt) Ltd (DBL) aimed at bringing the unbanked population into formal banking services.
However, it has been noted that VRG, while violating the legal framework and license conditions, has started an ill-intended media campaign to malign the regulator and influence regulatory decisions.
To expedite the availability of the Asaan Mobile Account (AMA) scheme for the general public, PTA provided all facilitation to TPSP licensees through a series of meetings and discussions spanning over several months in order to resolve the technical and financial issues between all stakeholders. However, VRG instead of recognizing the efforts of PTA has tried to malign the regulator by publishing twisted facts.
VRG has tried to put the burden of its own failures on the regulator. VRG has alleged in the media that PTA has delayed issuance of the commencement certificate for commercial operations since January 2020, whereas SBP issued authorization to VRG for commercial launch on 9th April 2020. As a consequence of SBP’s authorization and completing a commercial agreement with the mobile operator, VRG applied to PTA for commencement certificate on 4th August 2020.
It is clarified that issuance of commencement certificate requires submission of commercial agreements by a TPSP licensee with all the Cellular Mobile Operators (CMOs). Since completion of the pilot launch and inspection of the VRG system in Jan 2020, PTA has repeatedly been urging VRG to expedite and submit commercial agreements for issuance of commencement certificate. However, VRG was unable to submit any commercial agreement over the last 6 months until 4th August 2020 that too with only one operator i.e. Jazz. Even the agreement with Jazz is conditional on VRG’s agreements with other operators.
Under VRG’s license conditions, a 30-day prior notice is required by VRG for commencement. Hence, there is no delay on part of PTA in the issuance of commencement certificate and the same will be issued after fulfillment of quality of service conditions and evaluation of the commercial agreement.
VRG has also reported that it has signed an agreement with SCO which has the mandate to operate cell phone services in AJ&K and GB. VRG has even not been awarded any TPSP license for AJ&K and GB, a requirement to operate in both regions. Therefore, VRG’s commercial agreement with SCO is misleading to the general public. TPSP licensee is also required to submit its agreements to the regulator, however, no agreement with SCO has been submitted yet by VRG.
Furthermore, VRG has blatantly alleged a fair regulator to favor other TPSP licensees (DBL) to put pressure on the regulator well before the 30 days’ notice for processing of commencement certificate, which ends on 4th September 2020. It clearly indicates the licensee’s intention of covering any shortfalls in commercial agreements and technical design through pressure tactics.
PTA stays committed to an early commercial launch of the AMA scheme, ensuring fulfillment of all technical parameters as defined in TPSP license, related IM, and subsequent clarifications.