SBP launches onlinepayment system for businesses on Raast platform

By Our Correspondent
September 27, 2023

KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan said on Tuesday it had launched an online payment system for merchants that would allow them to receive instant payments from customers using their mobile phones.

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The person-to-merchant (P2M) payment system is part of the Raast instant payment platformand is expected to be formally launched in the next couple of weeks with six entities already part of the new payment journey.

"I am glad to share that the third use case P2M has also been deployed since September 3, a couple of weeks back, and I am glad to share that six entities have already been onboarded on P2M," Qazi Shoaib Ahmad, Director, Payment Systems Policy & Oversight Department, SBP, said while speaking at 21st conference on 'Future Banking Summit 2023'.

"P2M will be a game changer in terms of adoption of Raast at the industry level," he said, adding the six entities are Bank Alfalah, MCB Bank, Allied Bank, JS Bank, Easypaisa, and 1Link. Earlier, the central bank had already launched person-to-person (P2P) and bulk payment transfers on Raast. The SBP is also working to bring more banks on board on the P2M journey. Few of them are in pilot stages, he said. The central bank also already issued standards on interoperable QR codes.

The QR code has been part of the P2P and P2M use cases of Raast. "We believe that this is the way forward and QR payment will be a game changer. It would be the most useful utility for the unbanked population."

Ahmad said the initial adoption of Raast has been wonderful. So far more than 32 million account holders have been registered with Raast and 225 million transactions have been done through the Raast platform amounting to more than Rs4.6 trillion.

Besides, the central bank is keenly learning how digital currencies are working globally. The initiative may help the state bank in developing its own CBDC (central bank digital currency) in the future. The SBP is working on a project to prevent digital fraud through deploying artificial intelligence (AI), he said.

"We are working on two initiatives. One is in-house and the other is...we are working with an international vendor. So we are basically working on the model for predicting the frauds.” He said and added once this model is developed, we plan to embed this model on the Raast platform. So that it will certainly be quite helpful in terms of protecting customers from potential frauds.

He said, "Another area of new technology is the use of Blockchain and its use in terms of developing CBDC." Globally there has been quite interest in CBDC. The SBP has been quite keen on learning from other central banks and it is in touch with IFIs (international financial institutions) such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, according to Ahmad.

"We are trying to understand different dimensions of CBDC. So we are creating this path quite cautiously. The SBP has also taken industry consultation on this front especially. So that is how the State Bank is approaching CDBC,” he said.

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