The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has waived off the fees on various internet and mobile banking services for consumers.
In order to promote digitization in the banking sector and encourage the use of digital channels, the State Bank of Pakistan has directed all banks to withdraw annual charges and levy on activation, subscription and etc.
The SBP has instructed all the banks to provide a minimum set of services on their internet and mobile banking channels. These services include bill payments, funds transfer/interbank fund transfer, beneficiary management, limit management, credit and debit card management, and stop cheque payment.
A statement by the central bank said, “To encourage the use of the internet and mobile banking services by their customers, banks will not levy any activation, subscription or annual charges on their customers for using such services”.
The SBP also said, “The digitization of the entire payment process is hindered if the customers can make payments to only those billers that are registered with their own bank. Hence, in order to facilitate the customers, the banks have been advised to make necessary arrangements to ensure that their customers can make online payments to maximum number of billers”.
The banks will now issue debit cards to all the new bank account holders and customers who have not previously opted for debit cards unless they opt not to receive any payment card. However, this requirement will not be applicable to customers that are illiterate, are photo account holders, or are visually impaired.
To replace the manual authentication process, the banks/microfinance banks have been permitted to authenticate their customers at their branch counters using chip-and-pin cards and 2-factor authentication.
The banking regulator removed charges on the use of mobile and internet banking for limited services earlier in 2020 to promote the use of digital banking as the alternate channel for customers to avoid branches visit as the preventive measures from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The use of digital banking increased phenomenally subsequently among the customers as the central bank stepped up to permanently withdraw the charges and levies to encourage the advanced use of banking services in the country.
SBP has directed banks to discourage the use of checkbooks in the banking system. Not all customers will be provided checkbooks at the time of opening of an account as a standard practice. Checkbooks will be provided on the furnished on the customers upon customer’s request.
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Considering the significance of digitization, the banks have also been advised to create a role of Chief Digital Officer (CDO) who would be responsible for steering the digitization efforts. Further, accelerated digitization will also be part of KPIs of every CEO, which will be monitored by their board for its achievement on at least a half-yearly basis.
SBP has instructed all banks to provide a minimum set of services on their Internet Banking (IB) and Mobile Banking (MB) channels.
These steps should be considered as the tip of the iceberg which is in line with SBP’s declared objectives to digitize payment and financial services.
SBP will continue to promote digitization in the country and expects the industry to support these efforts, resulting in increased convenience for the customers to fulfill their financial needs through safe, rapid, and secure digital infrastructure in Pakistan.
Courtesy: Pro Pakistani