The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) plans to simplify banking by allowing consumers to use their mobile number as their bank account number, hence increasing access to banking services for unbanked and financially excluded persons living in distant and rural areas.
“Under Raast (Pakistan’s indigenous instant payment system), a customer can link his or her mobile number or…any other (unique) identification number to their bank account number. This feature would be available in October, according to Syed Sohail Javaad, Director Payment System Department, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).
“In the near future, people may be required to provide their mobile number in order to receive instant payments,” he explained. Keeping track of a lengthy IBAN or bank account number is one of the most challenging aspects of banking services.
“This has been on our minds since we began designing Raast in 2017,” he explained. He was addressing at Total Communications’ 14th annual international conference, dubbed ‘UBL Digital Mobile Commerce 2021,’ which was conducted in partnership with SBP and Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA). “Next year, we plan to introduce an exciting…pull payment service [in which a seller of goods can request that banks pay for the goods from the buyer’s account with the buyer’s consent],” he explained.
The central bank, in partnership with PTA, has bolstered the country’s digital banking system’s cybersecurity. “We were 99.9 percent secure against global (cyber) security threats and attacks. We received threats but were able to avert the attacks,” he explained. SBP conducts 24/7 online sessions with banks’ chief information security officers (CISOs).
When the central bank becomes aware of cyber risks, it contacts banks in coordination with the PTA to inform them of the potential dangers and to suggest security measures. “The majority of threats are directed at the POS (point of sale machines installed at merchant locations) and plastic card sections.”
Customer confidence has increased as a result of the advancements in cybersecurity. Accordingly, mobile and internet banking have increased by up to 177 percent in the last year and will continue to grow at that rate until March 31, 2021. Additionally, Pakistan has become the world’s largest market for POS machine deployment.
He stated the number of machines has climbed to 68,000 now, up from 49,000 in March 2020. PTA Director General Commercial Affairs Muhammad Arif Sargana stated that all four mobile phone service providers and PTCL had conducted 5G internet trials. “Pakistan will begin commercial deployment of 5G spectrum next year (by December 2022),” he stated.
Additionally, he claimed, the PTA would auction additional spectrum for 3G/4G internet within one to two months. The increase in connection has facilitated the financial sector’s expansion of digital banking in Pakistan, he explained. According to Shazad G. Dada, President and CEO of UBL, digital banking is the way of the future for Pakistan’s financial sector.
Those who refuse to accept the change will lose. In Pakistan, there are 183 million SIM cards, 89 million cellphones, and Rs. 7 trillion in cash in circulation. “This [the data] creates a strong foundation for the development of digital banking in Pakistan,” he said.
Additionally, the one-day conference featured three panel discussions on the following topics:
- Digital Banks: A Threat to the Existing Banking System or an Expansion?
- Fintech’s Impact on Pakistan’s Financial Future
- E-Commerce — Establishing Pre-Pay Customer Trust.