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January 8, 2020

Banks to electronically submit forex cases through SBP portal


January 8, 2020

KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Tuesday said banks would electronically submit foreign exchange related cases through SBP’s online portal after its formal launch this month.

The SBP aims to digitalise processes and move towards a paperless environment, which would ultimately benefit the businesses, a statement said. Two core departments of SBP - Exchange Policy Department (EPD) and Foreign Exchange Operations Department (FEOD) - have recently arranged series of detailed presentation on foreign exchange operations and ‘SBP Online Portal’.

The SBP held a presentation for stakeholders in this regard, where an overview was given about the working of the online portal. “In order to keep the clients apprised about the status of cases submitted to SBP, an email containing system-generated unique case number will be sent to the clients on the email address provided by banks at the time of case submission,” the SBP statement said.

“Furthermore, the updated position of their case can also be accessed on SBP website through unique case number assigned to each case.” SBP Banking Services Corporation (BSC) Managing Director Muhammad Ashraf Khan in his welcome address underlined the importance and key role of business sector in economic revival and future growth of the country.

EPD director informed the participants about recent policy measures taken by SBP to promote the business sentiments in the country. He explained that current measures were in continuation of SBP’s efforts to ease the earlier restrictions as well as to facilitate and support ease of doing business in view of the improved economic outlook.

In this regard, the SBP has conducted awareness sessions in Lahore, Faisalabad, Gujranwala and Sialkot.

Regulations for on-boarding merchants revised

The SBP revised regulations on digital on-boarding of merchants, as part of its efforts to give new options to the general public and broadening the base of financial inclusion in the country.

Under the revised regulation, the banks, including microfinance banks should ensure that merchant accounts were only used for digital collection of payments against the provision of legitimate goods and services, an SBP circular said late on Monday.

However, cash deposit into these accounts was permitted subject to terms and conditions, it added.

The new regulations would allow all customers, including branchless banking level zero accountholders to top/ cash in their accounts up to Rs10,000/month through biometrically verified merchants. However, cash deposit would only be used for digital payments. “Total cash deposit in merchant accounts will not exceed Rs100,000 per month,” it added.

The SBP said the issuance of these merchant on-boarding regulations would enable banks to quickly onboard a large segment of retail merchants and enable them to accept their payments digitally.

The SBP said one of the challenges in the digitisation of retail transactions in Pakistan was the low number of digital payment acceptance points in the country.

There are many reasons for this shortfall, the primary one being the process of merchant on-boarding, which requires a long list of documentation and an even longer process of due diligence by banks, the SBP noted.

Banks to record board, general meetings

The SBP has asked banks to ensure that the deliberations made by the participating board members are duly showed in the minutes of the meetings using name-tags.

“In the event of conflict of interest, the board should detail in minutes as to how they have complied with the organisation’s conflict of interest policy,” an SBP circular said.

The SBP said the company secretary would submit duly certified copies of the draft minutes of the meetings within twenty-one days of the date of such meetings through Data Acquisition Portal (DAP) of the SBP.