ISLAMABAD, Oct 19: The ministry of information technology has directed the country’s telecom regulator and services providers to work closely with the central bank and remove hurdles in the way of introduction of electronic mobile banking in Pakistan.

Mobile banking facility is in place in many developing countries consisting of comprehensive banking services including money transfer, cash-in, cash-out, person to person transfer, bill payments, on-line purchases etc.

However, the lack of coordination among various stakeholders has hindered the availability of these services in Pakistan.

The directives were issued at a meeting presided over by IT Minister Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari here on Thursday. Governor State Bank, Shahmshad Akhter, IT Secretary Farrakh Qayyum and officials of the regional players in the mobile banking sectors were present.

Mr Leghari stressed the introduction of innovative services such as electronic and mobile banking to leverage the substantial reach of mobile phone services to the common man. He urged all stakeholders, including the IT ministry, State Bank and service providers to collaborate their efforts to remove all barriers to the introduction of innovative e-banking services.

He directed the IT ministry’s officials to work in close coordination with SBP and mobile phone operators to put in place the banking facility.

Mobile phone banking services have been successfully launched in various countries including Philippine where it offers the consumers a virtual wallet providing for a convenient way of transferring and remitting funds through SMS. The codes and messages exchanged in the process can then be converted to cash at widely deployed distribution channel locations and even retail outlets.

Mr Leghari said the mobile phone banking facility would come as a huge facility to the common man who would not only be able to make transactions, but also save time and cost on such transactions if processed through banks and post offices.

The telecom sector in Pakistan has grown to a level where such services could be launched conveniently to benefit a large segment of the population currently hooked on to the mobile phone network, he added.

He formed a committee comprising of representatives of the SBP, IT ministry and experts, for looking into issues that could come up during the process of introduction of these services. The ministry and the SBP also agreed to form a permanent focal group within the ministry to sort out similar matters in future.

Mr Leghari said the question of reliability of infrastructure to support such services was very critical and therefore his ministry would interact with the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to improve the reliability to globally acceptable standards.

The IT ministry would also encourage service level agreements, to be duly enforced by the authority, between the services providers and customers such as banks to ensure quality and continuity of top-class service. He also assured the State Bank governor provision of a robust infrastructure and reliable, always-on connectivity to ensure non-stop e-banking.

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