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SBP To Allow Opening of Bank Accounts Using Phone Numbers

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) is set to simplify banking by allowing customers to use their mobile number as their bank account number to expand banking services to unbanked and financially excluded people living in remote and rural areas.

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“Customer could link his/her mobile number or…any other (unique) identification number with their bank account number under Raast (Pakistan’s indigenous instant payment system). This feature is going to be rolled-out in October,” Syed Sohail Javaad, Director Payment System Department, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), said.


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“People could give their mobile number only to receive instant payments from the near future,” he said. Remembering a long IBAN or bank account number is one of the most difficult things in banking services.

“This was on our mind since we started designing Raast sometime in 2017,” he said. He was speaking at the 14th annual international conference under the title ‘UBL Digital Mobile Commerce 2021,’ organized by Total Communications in collaboration with SBP and Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA). “Next year, we are aimed to introduce exciting…pull payment service [like seller of goods can request banks to pay for the goods from buyers account with the buyers’ pre-requisite consent],” he said.

The central bank, in collaboration with PTA, has strengthened the cybersecurity of the digital banking system in the country. “We remained 99.9 percent safe from world (cyber) security threats and attacks. We received threats but successfully managed to avert the attacks on time,” he said. SBP holds online meetings with banks’ CISOs (Chief information security officers) 24/7.

When the central bank comes to know cyber threats, it, in collaboration with PTA, calls banks to inform them about the potential threats and suggests measures to remain secured. “Most of the threats come for POS (point of sales machines installed at merchants) and plastic cards section.”

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The improvement in cybersecurity has won customer confidence. Accordingly, mobile and internet banking has boosted by up to 177 percent over the last year till March 31, 2021. Moreover, Pakistan became the number one market for deploying POS machines globally.


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The number of machines increased to 68,000 today compared to 49,000 by March 2020, he said. Muhammad Arif Sargana, Director General Commercial Affairs PTA, said all the four mobile phone service providers and PTCL have tested the most advanced 5G internet. “Pakistan will roll-out 5G spectrum next year (by December 2022),” he said.

PTA would also auction additional spectrum for 3G/4G internet within one to two months, he said. The improvement in connectivity has provided a platform to the financial sector to expand digital banking in Pakistan, he said. Shazad G. Dada, President and CEO of UBL, said that digital banking is the future of the financial sector of Pakistan.

Those who would not accept the change would be the loser. There are 183 million SIMS, 89 million smartphones, and cash worth Rs. 7 trillion in circulation in Pakistan. “This [the data] provides a solid opportunity for flourishing digital banking in Pakistan,” he said.


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The one-day conference also featured three panel discussions on:

  1. Digital Banks: A Threat or Extension of Existence Banking System.
  2. Fintech’s Impact on Future of Finance in Pakistan.
  3. E-Commerce – Building Customer Trust for Pre-Pay.

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