KARACHI: State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) was set to launch the second phase of an instant digital payment system known as Raast within the next couple of months, which would allow person-to-person payments (P2P), it said on Wednesday.
“The second phase of person-to-person payments would be launched by October 2021 for which banks are being integrated with Raast,” the SBP’s Governor Dr Reza Baqir told the participants of the fifth stakeholders meeting on digital financial services on Monday.
The statement didn’t give more details but the banking industry officials said the P2P payments would enable the transfer of funds between two parties using their individual banking accounts via mobile application, internet banking, ATMs or any other digital platform.
In the third and final phase, person to merchant payments such as payment of goods via point of sale (POS) terminals would be covered.
Launched in early this year, Rasst permits end-to-end digital payments among general public, businesses, and government entities instantaneously.
“The SBP has announced two new initiatives to facilitate the introduction of digital financial products and services by financial institutions to benefit all segments of society,” Baqir said. These initiatives are the introduction of digital cheques clearing and a unified QR code for payments.
The initiatives are targeted towards the overarching objective of accelerating digitalization and financial inclusion.
“The digital cheque clearing initiative will replace physical presentation and clearing of cheques thereby reducing the time involved substantially,” the governor said.
“The second initiative, the introduction of a unified QR code, will allow payments by users from any digital application eliminating the need to use separate apps,” he added.
Baqir said SBP would continue to promote innovative digital financial services and is ready to facilitate these endeavors by resolving issues as far as possible.
During the meeting, SBP and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) announced the formation of a SBP-PTA joint taskforce to work towards the prevention of digital financial services frauds.
In addition, SBP and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) have also agreed to form a joint committee to collaborate on a regular basis to increase digitisation in the economy. These and other initiatives have led to 30 and 20 percent growth in internet and mobile banking respectively in the third quarter of last fiscal year, compared with the same period in FY2020.
The SBP’s governor also shared that SBP was actively exploring the development of open banking, which allowed sharing and leveraging of customer-permissioned information among financial institutions to facilitate consumer choice, promote competition and efficiency in the financial sector, and encourage the introduction of innovative products and services to benefit consumers.
Governor Baqir appreciated stakeholders’ support in facilitating the digital initiatives of SBP, particularly by FBR, NADRA and FBR in moving forward the drive for digital financial services.
The meeting was attended by a wide range of stakeholders including Chairman PTA, Major General (R) Amir Azeem Bajwa; Chairmen FBR, Asim Ahmed; Chairman NADRA, Muhammad Tariq Malik; Country Director of the World Bank, Najy Benhassine; and representative from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
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