KARACHI: The central bank on Wednesday removed fees on various internet and mobile banking services for consumers to promote digitization in the country.
The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has required all banks to provide a minimum set of services on their internet and mobile banking channels. These services include bill payments, funds transfer / interbank funds transfer, payee management, limit management, credit and debit card management, and stop payment by check.
“To encourage the use of the Internet and mobile banking services by their customers, banks will not charge any activation, subscription or annual fees to their customers for the use of these services,” the SBP said in a statement. “The digitization of the entire payment process is hampered if customers can only make payments to only billers registered with their own bank. Therefore, in order to facilitate customers, banks have been urged to make the necessary arrangements to ensure that their customers can make payments online to a maximum number of billers. In order to promote the use of payment cards, banks will issue a debit card to all new bank account holders and customers who have not previously opted for a debit card, unless the customer chooses not to receive of payment card. However, this requirement will not apply to customers who cannot read and write, photo account holders and visually impaired people. Banks authenticated their customers at bank counters using signatures and paper instruments. The existing EMV card infrastructure provides secure authentication. It is possible to facilitate customers by using this infrastructure to replace the manual authentication process. In this regard, banks / microfinance banks are now allowed to authenticate their clients at branch counters using chip and PIN cards and 2-factor authentication and provide them with banking services.
“Given the importance of digitization, banks have also been advised to create a role of chief digital officer who would be responsible for leading digitization efforts,” the SBP said. “In addition, accelerated digitization will also be part of the KPIs [key performance indicators] of each Chief Executive Officer, who will be monitored by their Board of Directors for its implementation on at least half-yearly basis. The SBP has taken several initiatives to promote digitization, including providing repayment facility to bank borrowers on other distribution channels and streamlining payment card security regulations to facilitate consumer coverage. risks adapted to the constant evolution of the payment card markets and in accordance with international standards.
SBP also launched the country’s first instant payment system, RAAST. The fees for all real-time money transfers and gross settlement transactions for consumers in the COVID-19 pandemic have been waived. Bank charges have also been streamlined to improve the payment card infrastructure.
“These instructions didn’t just do the job of POS deployment. [point of sale] machines a profitable proposition for the financial sector, but also a value-added solution for consumers, ”said SBP. “These steps are just the tip of the iceberg, which is in line with SBP’s stated goals of digitizing payment and financial services. SBP expects industry to support these efforts, which will make it easier for customers to meet their financial needs through safe, fast and secure digital infrastructure in Pakistan.