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State Bank directs banks to waive online funds transfer charges

By Our Correspondent
March 19, 2020

KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has directed banks to waive all charges on fund transfers through online banking channels to discourage general public from visiting banks in the wake of coronavirus outbreak, a statement said on Wednesday.

The central bank instructed banks to waive all charges on fund transfers through online banking channels such as Inter Bank Fund Transfer (IBFT) and the SBP’s Real-Time Gross Settlement System for customers, it added.

“Thus, people can transfer money through mobile phones or internet banking avoiding

the need to visit a bank branch or an ATM without incurring any cost.” In the wake of the recent COVID19 (coronavirus) outbreak, the SBP is undertaking a number of measures to contribute towards meeting the challenges being faced by the society in remaining safe from this pandemic and its potential impact.

Given the pivotal role of the financial sector in providing services to the general public, particularly the businesses, the central bank, after consultation with the stakeholders, has instructed banks to take specific measures for providing services seamlessly taking due care of reducing the exposure risk amid coronavirus.

The objective of these measures is to reduce the need for visiting bank branches or the ATMs and to promote use of digital payment services such as internet banking, mobile phone banking, etc.

They will also not incur any cost in the case of using ATMs or visiting bank branches for transferring large amounts and can avoid the use of cash, the central bank said. Banks have been advised to facilitate their customers in using online banking, while taking all necessary precautions to ensure the safety and security of the customer’s funds.

Further, they will also ensure that call centres / help-lines are available 24/7 for instant customer support. Financial industry has been instructed to immediately facilitate education fee and loan repayments through internet banking or mobile devices.

Financial institutions would also run awareness campaigns through different channels to educate customers use internet banking or mobile phones, limit use of currency notes and restrict branch visits.

Anticipating any frauds in the wake of digital transactions, the SBP has advised financial industry to increase vigilance on digital channels and increase monitoring on cyber threats. It expects all these measures will help continue meeting routine financial service needs of the bank customers.

COVID19 has challenged human life globally and all the countries are struggling to find out solutions; the key approach, so far, has been to take precautionary measures. The SBP is working with the stakeholders to continuously assessing the situation and will take every possible measure to improve the safety of the public.