SBP Issues NOCs to 5 Applicants for Setting Up Digital Banks

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has issued no objection certificates to five applicants for establishing digital banks in Pakistan.

In January 2022, the central bank introduced a Licensing and Regulatory Framework for Digital Banks in line with international best practices and decided to issue up to five digital banks’ licenses.

According to a statement issued by the central bank, the applicants who have been issued no-objection certificates include:

  1. Easy Paisa DB (Telenor Pakistan B.V & Ali Pay Holding Ltd.)
  2. Hugo Bank (Getz Bros & Co., Atlas Consolidated Pte. Ltd., and M & P Pakistan Pvt. Ltd.)
  3. KT Bank (Kuda Technologies Ltd., Fatima Fertilizer Ltd., and City School Pvt. Ltd.)
  4. Mashreq Bank (Mashreq Bank UAE)
  5. Raqami (Kuwait Investment Authority through – PKIC and Enertech Holding Co.)

The Regulatory Framework for Digital Banks was the first step towards introducing full-fledged digital banks in Pakistan. Digital banks are expected to provide all the banking services through digital means without any need for their customers to visit the bank branches physically.

In response to SBP’s Licensing and Regulatory Framework for digital banks, it received twenty applications from a diverse range of interested players such as commercial banks, microfinance banks, electronic money institutions, and fintech firms by March 31, 2022.

Moreover, several foreign players including venture capital firms already operating in the digital banking space also expressed their interest to venture into the Pakistani market directly or in collaboration with local partners.

The five applicants were selected after a thorough and rigorous assessment process as per the requirements of the Framework. Applicants were assessed on various parameters and all the applicants were given the opportunity to present their business case to SBP.

What next?

Going forward, each of these five applicants will incorporate a public limited company with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SEC). Afterward, they will approach SBP for In-Principle Approval for demonstrating operational readiness and for the commencement of operations under the pilot phase. Subsequently, they will commercially launch their operations after obtaining SBP’s approval.

SBP expects that after the commencement of their operations, these digital banks will promote financial inclusion by providing affordable and cost-effective digital financial services including credit access to unserved and underserved segments of society.

  • This Hugo bank or Atlas consolidated pte isn’t a Singapore company, instead they’re indians and have engineering office in Hyderabad, Telangana. KYC data of Pakistanis will be in the hands of Indians. They’ll have the access surely. SBP should do checks before giving NOCs.

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