SBP unveils mechanism to pay for global digital services

Updated 14 Aug 2020

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New mechanism introduced by State Bank of Pakistan will enable companies in Pakistan to make instant payments to globally recognised digital service providers. — AP/File
New mechanism introduced by State Bank of Pakistan will enable companies in Pakistan to make instant payments to globally recognised digital service providers. — AP/File

KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan has introduced a new mechanism for making payments to globally recognised digital service providers to help businesses, including those in information technology and financial sectors.

The new mechanism would enable companies in Pakistan to make instant payments for acquiring services from globally recognised digital service provider companies without any hassle, said the SBP.

“Now, banks have general permission to release foreign exchange up to a maximum of $200,000 per year for each local company on account of digital services on account of digital services, primarily in favour of 62 providers (including their affiliates or associated entities), listed by the SBP.

However, within this limit, authorised dealers (banks) can release foreign exchange up to a maximum of $25,000 per annum to digital service providers not included in the list.

“The banks may offer the digital channels to their clients, for making these payments,” said the SBP.

This move allows local companies to access various services including advertising, hosting, database access, accounting management, skill development and customer support etc, from these global companies instantaneously without any regulatory approval process, said the SBP.

“This facilitation will increase their outreach to wider customer base locally and abroad, which would help them increase their footprint, productivity and achieve greater efficiency,” said the SBP.

In November 2019, the SBP introduced a framework for acquisition of services from abroad allowing companies to acquire them after registration of its contract with the central bank.

However, some businesses reported facing difficulty under this mechanism for making payments to the digital service providers.

After an extensive consultative process with all the relevant stakeholders, a much-simplified process on ‘payment vs receipt basis’ has been introduced with annual limits, in addition to the existing framework, noted the SBP.

Published in Dawn, August 14th, 2020