Digital banking plan ready, says SBP deputy governor

Published October 22, 2021
Digital banking will offer a full range of banking services online compared to a few digital services available at present. — Aurora/File
Digital banking will offer a full range of banking services online compared to a few digital services available at present. — Aurora/File

KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has finalised a comprehensive digital banking plan that may be approved within a month for introduction.

“We have gone through very intensive consultative phase for digital banking. That has been concluded. We would hopefully have appro­val and announce that within a month or so,” said SBP Dep­uty Governor Sima Kamil while addressing the 19th Annual Conference on Fut­ure Banking 2021 Summit, organised by Total Commu­nications on Thursday.

“I am happy to say there are players who have shown great deal of interest in digital banking and also fintechs,” she said.

She said the central bank has already allowed “digital on boarding” recently, meaning resident Pakis­tanis are now allowed to open bank accounts online and remotely.

The digital banking would offer a full range of banking services online compared to a few digital services available at present.

The central bank is also scheduled to roll-out the second part of its indigenous instant payment system — Raast — in November that would allow P2P (person-to-person) financial transactions. “Six banks are in the phase of integration. It will be launched in November which is our timeline and we will keep to it,” she said.

She said the central bank is also working on “Open Banking” which is also going to become a reality soon in Pakistan as well. “We have actually finished a working plan. We are working on very critical things to open APIs (Application Progra­mming Interface).

We will now have an internal steering committee on Open Banking. We are also taking assistance from…World Bank,” she said.

Ammar Jaffri, Director General Centre of Information Technology (CIT) and former Additional Director General FIA, said that CIT has approached National Account­ability Bureau (NAB) and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to initiate discussions to form laws for working in digital currencies like Bitcoin.

“Three weeks ago, I have talked to NAB and FIA. We have formed a Special Interest Group on Digital Currency. Anyone can join the group and discussions…May you call them (digital currencies) Bitcon or cryptocurrency,” Jaffri said.

Amer Ahmed Hashmi, Chair­man, Special Technology Zones Authority (STZA), said the government is offering a straight 10-year tax holiday on all type of investments, construction and business transactions in such 14 zones across Pakistan.

Businesses to be established in the zones have already been allowed to have foreign currency accounts (FCAs). Such zones have started working in Islamabad and ready to be launched in Karachi very soon.

Published in Dawn, October 22nd, 2021

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