Governor State Bank of Pakistan, Dr. Reza Baqir, announced two new initiatives to facilitate the introduction of digital financial products and services by financial institutions to benefit all segments of society.
These initiatives are the introduction of digital cheques clearing and a unified QR code for payments.
The digital cheque clearing initiative will replace physical presentation and clearing of cheques, thereby reducing the time involved substantially.
The second initiative, the introduction of a unified QR code, will allow payments by users from any digital application, eliminating the need to use separate apps.
The initiatives announced by Governor Baqir are targeted towards the overarching objective of accelerating digitalization and financial inclusion. SBP will continue to promote innovative digital financial services and is ready to facilitate these endeavors by resolving issues as far as possible, he said.
Open Banking and Raast Payment System
SBP is actively exploring the development of Open Banking, which allows sharing and leveraging of customer-permissioned information among financial institutions to facilitate consumer choice, promote competition and efficiency in the financial sector, and encourage the introduction of innovative products and services to benefit consumers.
Governor Baqir said that SBP’s Raast payment platform, that the 2nd phase of person-to-person payments would be launched by October 2021 for which banks are being integrated with Raast.
SBP and PTA announced the formation of an SBP-PTA joint task force to work towards the prevention of digital financial services frauds. In addition, SBP and FBR have also agreed to form a joint committee to collaborate regularly to increase digitization in the economy.
These and other initiatives have led to 30 and 20 percent growth in internet and mobile banking respectively in Q3, FY21 compared to the same period last year.
Governor Baqir appreciated stakeholders’ support in facilitating the digital initiatives of SBP, particularly by FBR, and NADRA in moving forward the drive for digital financial services.
The forum was briefed about the significant progress made on issues identified earlier by the industry, including removal/reduction of taxes and duties by FBR on import of Point of Sale (PoS) machines used for accepting payment cards; facilitation of remote account opening by NADRA; and a review of the pricing mechanism for verification of mobile SIMs by telecom industry with the help of PTA.
The 5th Stakeholders meeting on Digital Financial Services held recently was attended by a wide range of stakeholders, including Chairman PTA, Major General (R) Amir Azeem Bajwa, Chairman FBR, Asim Ahmed, Chairman NADRA, Muhammad Tariq Malik, Country Director of the World Bank, Najy Benhassine, and a representative from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Representatives from the Accountant General of Pakistan Revenue (AGPR), Controller General of Accounts (CGA), Ministry of IT and Telecommunication (MoITT), Ministry of Commerce were also present.
The financial sector was represented by CEOs of Banks, Microfinance Banks and Electronic Money Institutions (EMIs), PSOs and PSPs, as well as several other digital financial services stakeholders.