Visit no longer needed for opening bank account

Published September 16, 2021
A logo of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) is pictured on a reception desk at the head office in Karachi on July 16, 2019. — Reuters
A logo of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) is pictured on a reception desk at the head office in Karachi on July 16, 2019. — Reuters

KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has said that Pakistanis are no longer required to visit a branch for opening an account and instead can use the digital framework designed by the central bank for the purpose.

“Based on the success of the Roshan Digital Account framework, the SBP has now devised a comprehensive ‘Customers’ Digital Onboarding Framework’, which will facilitate banks and Microfinance Banks (MFBs) to conveniently and remotely open bank accounts of resident Pakistanis by using digital channels including websites/portal, mobile applications, digital kiosks etc.,” said the SBP on Wednesday.

The SBP said that with the rapid growth in adoption of electronic banking channels, especially amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the demand from bank and customers for digital financial transactions have increased manifold.

SBP launches four Asaan account categories to boost financial inclusion

The SBP has advised the banking industry to implement this framework by Dec 31, 2021. The central bank is confident that this initiative will help promote digitisation of banking services in the country apart from achieving the financial inclusion objectives. The framework would also provide a tool to the industry and an impetus to SBP’s initiative of Banking on Equality by bringing women into the financial system, it added.

“The framework in general provides a convenient way for all segments of society for opening bank accounts, it specifically enables freelancers, self-employed or unemployed women, and recipient of remittances from abroad to open bank account digitally with minimum documentation requirements,” it added.

The framework has been finalised after carrying out an extensive consultation with stakeholders, to obtain opinion from industry experts and to proactively address the challenges, which banks and MFBs might face during the implementation of this framework.

While typically accounts can be opened as either Savings or Current Account, the framework identifies four categories on the basis of functional limits such as deposit or withdrawal limits, fund transfer limits etc and the documents required for opening an account.

These categories include ‘Asaan Digital Account’; ‘Asaan Digital Remittance Account’; ‘Freelancer Digital Account’; and the ‘Digital Account.’ The first category is the easiest to open requiring very basic information and the least number of documents albeit with some limits on functionality. The last category, i.e. Digital Account is without any functional restriction but needs more information for account opening. A customer can start with the basic account and can upgrade over time to higher level of account type when needed.

Published in Dawn, September 16th, 2021

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