RECENTLY my son opened a Roshan Digital account with an international bank in Karachi from London. Though the initial experience of opening the account was fine, once he tried to do some transactions, he started facing issues.
He was here for a few weeks on a visit to Karachi and wanted to get his cheque book from his bank which was initially sent to his address in London. Getting another cheque book locally was a tough task which still remains unresolved despite having made several phone calls and personal visits to the Clifton branch of the bank in Karachi.
Surprisingly, he can transfer funds from the Roshan Digital account only to his account in London. But if he wants to transfer funds to another account in his own name or to a third party, this cannot be done. Why is that so?
Also, he cannot open online savings account in rupees here. Why?
Moving on, the conversion rate quoted for converting British pounds into Pakistani rupees is extremely adverse. Why cannot the transactions be booked on the official exchange rate?
For example, when the online remittance service of a Pakistani bank in London was offering pound rate as Rs110, the international bank was quoting Rs107. This is certainly because he is a captive customer and may be fleeced by the foreign exchange trading department of the bank concerned.
I hope that the State Bank of Pakistan will issue guidelines to all the banks to ensure currency conversion at the official closing rate. They should also reconsider the restriction of transferring funds only to originating accounts. The operations in these accounts should be made customer-friendly for more frequent use of these accounts.
I am a former banker and quite understand that Roshan Digital account is a good scheme, but it needs to be improved further to facilitate overseas customers.
Ajaz H. Khan
Published in Dawn, April 7th, 2021