SBP Introduces Instant and Free P2P Payments under Raast

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has issued instructions that will enable Person-to-Person (P2P) fund transfers in the country through Raast, Pakistan’s Instant Payment System developed by the central bank.

SBP believes that the launch of Raast P2P service will not only provide a convenient and hassle-free digital fund transfer service to customers but will also provide an efficient and enabling payments infrastructure that would pave the way for digitization of the economy and promotion of digital financial services in the country.

Raast Person-to-Person (P2P)

Under Raast Person-to-Person (P2P) fund transfers and settlement services, bank customers would be able to send and receive funds in their accounts using their bank’s mobile application, internet banking, or over-the-counter services.

For customers’ facilitation, they can set their registered mobile phone number as their Raast ID and link it to their preferred International Bank Account Number (IBAN) using the bank’s mobile application, internet banking, or visiting their bank branch.

Once a customer has set her/his mobile phone number as the Raast ID, others can send money to her/him using her/his mobile phone number without the need to know the account number or any other details. Bank customers can still use the Raast service for sending or receiving funds using their IBANs even if they do not have a Raast ID or prefer to use their IBAN.

SBP has directed all banks to make Raast Person-to-Person fund transfer service available on at least three customer channels including mobile application, internet banking, and branch counters.

More banks will start offering Raast P2P services after completing their needed technological upgrades and other preparations to offer Raast P2P.

Banks To Provide Rapid and Free Service Under Raast

SBP has directed banks to ensure that funds successfully transferred through Raast should be credited into the recipients’ accounts within 20 seconds of receiving the credit advice from the Raast system. To promote the use of digital financial services in the country, banks have been advised not to levy any charges on Raast related services and all transactions conducted through Raast would be free for end customers.

To facilitate banks in this regard, SBP will also offer free-of-cost Raast services to banks. Further, to facilitate their customers, banks will not assign a minimum transaction size. In general, banks will allow maximum transaction limits of Rs. 200,000 per transaction or higher depending on the bank’s assessment of the risk profile of the customer.

For particular account types where the SBP has prescribed limits from time to time, the maximum transaction limit could be lower than Rs. 200,000 per transaction. SBP has advised banks to provide a smooth, convenient, and hassle-free user experience to their customers using Raast.

Banks Asked To Strengthen SLA’s With Vendors

Banks are required to ensure continuous and uninterrupted availability of all channels on which Raast services are being offered. For this purpose, banks will strengthen their Service Level Agreements (SLAs) with their vendors and service providers. Banks have also been advised to ensure availability of a fully equipped 24/7 Network Operations Center (NOC), Security Operations Center (SOC), and call center /helpdesk fully equipped with agents who are well versed with Raast functionality, and effective customer complaints and disputes resolution mechanism for timely resolution of customer issues.

Banks have also been advised to take all measures to encourage their customers to use Raast services and facilitate them in its usage. In this regard, they will ensure that customer awareness messages are broadcasted through SMS, emails, and digital and social media platforms. The enabling instructions for Raast’s person-to-person transfers have been issued to all banks, electronic money institutions, payment system operators (PSOs), and payment system providers (PSPs) and mark the second phase of the rollout of the instant payment system.

Raast is being developed in collaboration with Karandaaz, Pakistan, and introduced in phases. The first phase of Raast, bulk payments, was launched by the prime minister in January 2021. With the launch of Raast, Pakistan joined a select club of countries that have either launched or are in the process of launching Instant Payment Systems. Raast is fully owned and operated by the State Bank of Pakistan.

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