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PM approves National Challenger Bank for remittances

By Our Correspondent
February 27, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday principally approved the country’s first National Challenger Bank to facilitate digital transfer of remittances from across the world.

Khan directed his special assistant Zulfiqar Bukhari to formulate policies to facilitate overseas Pakistanis as well as provide health, education and other services to their families living in the country. “Overseas Pakistanis are assets of Pakistan,” the Prime Minister said, addressing a meeting on remittances at the Prime Minister office.

National Challenger Bank is a digital platform to ensure cost-effective and hassle-free remittance transactions in order to discourage illegal means.

State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Tariq Bajwa said remittances grew 12.5 percent in the first half of the current fiscal year of 2018/19.

“Incentives to banks, promotion of mobile wallet scheme and withholding tax concession on remittances noticeably improved the inflows into the country,” Bajwa said. He believed that remittance target of $22 billion for current fiscal year would easily be achieved.

Remittances from overseas Pakistani workers grew 12 percent to $12.774 billion in the first seven months of the current fiscal year, according to the central bank. The figure amounted to $11.383 billion in the corresponding period a year earlier. In January, the inflow of remittances stood at $1.743 billion, which was 0.3 percent lower than the previous month and 6.4 percent higher than the corresponding month a year earlier.

The highest remittances were sent from the non-gulf cooperation council countries, especially the United States and the United Kingdom. SBP Governor said remittance transfer via mobile wallet continued to show growth. Remittances equivalent to Rs30.5 million were received through m-wallet in January, whereas the figure was Rs25 million in December. The transfer via m-wallet amounted to only Rs54.7 million in the 11 months of last calendar year (January-November 2018).

Bajwa said the central bank is utilising blockchain technology to curb use of unofficial channels, like hundi and hawala.

Government will hold second Pakistan remittance summit in UAE in April to encourage use of official channels for remittance transfer.

The meeting was informed that National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) and Pakistan Post collaborated to increase foreign inflows. In the first phase, 237 post offices will facilitate remittance transaction, while around 13,000 postmen will be tasked to deliver remittance at the doorsteps nationwide in the second phase.

NBP’s officials informed the meeting that the bank is opening branches at the protectorate offices of bureau of emigration and overseas employment to ensure all the banking facilitates for emigrants under one roof.

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