A third national meeting of stakeholders on digital financial services, chaired by SBP Governor Dr Reza Baqir, was organized by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Thursday.
The aim of these meetings was to speed up the agenda in Pakistan for the promotion of digital financial services and payments. The meeting was attended by the World Bank Country Director; MOITT Secretary; Pakistan Revenue Accountant General (AGPR); BISP Secretary; NADRA, PTA, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), Karandaaz Representatives; and CEOs/Presidents of Banks, Telcos and Electronic Money Institutions (EMIs) and many other stakeholders.
According to the SBP, SBP Governor Dr Reza Baqir briefed the forum during the meeting on the substantial progress made since the last consultative meeting of stakeholders and the important steps taken by the SBP in facilitating digital payments.
He said the development of the SBP-powered Pakistan Instant Payments System project in collaboration with its partners has made considerable progress and the Prime Minister of Pakistan will soon start completing its first phase. This step would allow the Central Depository Company to automatically pass dividend payments directly into investors’ bank accounts (CDC).
Governor Baqir noted that despite disruptions due to Covid-19, the completion of this process in a fair period of time is commendable and SBP welcomed the continued support of its partners and other stakeholders.
He also stressed that numerous other initiatives are accelerating the country’s rate of digitalization. He said the successful implementation of the opening of digital accounts and the provision by banks of lifestyle banking and investment through the Roshan Digital Accounts (RDA) is a huge move forward for non-resident Pakistanis.
In addition, he said that the licensing application process for EMIs has also been rapidly monitored by SBP, which will help facilitate digital payments by non-bank players. SBP has also made changes to the Foreign Exchange Manual to make it easier to make payments in order to promote cross-border movements of retail payments and venture capital funds, he said.
Governor SBP thanked the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and its local representative Karandaaz Pakistan, the implementation partner of SBP, McKinsey Pakistan, and the technology partner CMA, who provided their full support to speed up work on Pakistan’s instant payment system despite the Covid-19 obstacles, travel ban and others. Governor Baqir also appreciated the AGPR’s interest in leveraging the salary and pension disbursement instant payment system platform and the BISP’s interest in routing payments through this platform to the Ehsaas Programme.
SBP also discussed during the meeting its proposals to ensure affordable access to digital financial services for discussion.
SBP told the stakeholders in this regard of the progress made in finalizing the fees for digital platforms, such as Inter Bank Funds Transfers (IBFT). Suggestions and feedback were sought from participants who generally appreciated SBP’s efforts to catalyze the dissemination of digital financial services in the region, which both financial institutions and the public benefit from.