SBP simplifies biometric verification for overseas Pakistanis

Published October 25, 2019
Overseas Pakistanis can now approach their respective banks through email or surface mail and provide identity documents like valid Passport, visa, CNIC and NICOP as an alternative arrangement. 0151 Reuters/File
Overseas Pakistanis can now approach their respective banks through email or surface mail and provide identity documents like valid Passport, visa, CNIC and NICOP as an alternative arrangement. 0151 Reuters/File

KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), on Thursday, issued detailed instructions to facilitate overseas Pakistanis in order to access their bank accounts.

Under the new arrangement, overseas Pakistanis can now approach their respective banks through email or surface mail and provide identity documents like valid Passport, visa, CNIC and National Identity Card for Overseas Pakistanis (NICOP) as an alternative arrangement for biometric verification to operate their bank accounts as usual.

Pakistan has been facing tough situation regarding the financial transactions being minutely scrutinised by the international watchdog to monitor terror financing and money laundering.

The watchdog has also put Pakistan on a grey-list of countries with anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) deficiencies.

The government has vowed to take all-out measures to get itself out of the grey-list, which is due in February next year.

Few overseas Pakistanis told Dawn that due to the condition of biometric verification, their banks accounts were suspended and they were not even able to send remittances. They said that under the alternate arrangement, the move would resolve the issues regarding their suspended accounts.

“The arrangement has been made in line with the SBP’s continuous monitoring of the progress of the banking industry with respect to biometric verification; and it has been reiterated to banks for extending their fullest cooperation to their overseas customers,” said the SBP.

The SBP referred to a circular issued in June for compliance of AML/CFT regime by banks and development financial institutions (DFIs) that deal with biometric verification of existing customers.

The circular said that, customers, who fall under the definition of non-resident Pakistanis (NRP), the bank and DFIs may obtain a signed undertaking from the customer along with their NRP status including copy of valid passport, visa, exit stamp, resident permit, and CNIC/NICOP and account number maintained with the bank as per customer record.

The bank, after verification of the customer’s signature from its record, will accordingly update the NRP status in the customer’s profile.

For customers, who do not qualify as NRP but are currently or temporarily outside the country for any reason, the bank may obtain reasonable evidence or proof from the customer regarding his absence from the country including copy of valid passport, visa, exit stamp, resident permit, etc and the expected date of return.

Published in Dawn, October 25th, 2019

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