KARACHI: The central bank has started implementation of digital micro-payment infrastructure system which allows transfer of funds in almost real time and is expected to bring a rapid surge in online payments in public and private sectors.
“SBP has started implementation of Micro Payment Gateway in collaboration with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to ensure faster retail payments,” State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Reza Baqir said in the Annual Performance Review 2018-19.
SBP expects rapid digitisation of public and private sectors’ collections and payments particularly of salaries and pensions following the completion of the project.
With the emergence of new enabling technologies, retail payment systems are being transformed to enable the public to pay and receive money in real time, it said.
Being cognizant of the value of a robust payment system for the economy, SBP acted prudently to develop a landscape mutually beneficial for banking industry, businesses, government agencies and the masses, the central bank said in the review report.
Besides, SBP developed the Asaan (Easy) Mobile Account (AMA) Scheme, which provides an integrated platform allowing any person with a basic mobile phone to open a digital transaction account swiftly through a Unified Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) code from anywhere at any time.
The objective of the scheme is to improve accessibility of new customers for account opening, drive usage of digital financial services through increased number of account-to-account transactions across various networks and provide digital access to a range of quality financial services.
“The scheme is currently in developmental phase and it is expected that it would be launched on pilot basis with selected institutions to validate the solution in live environment,” SBP said.
Internet banking services are offered by 27 banks to 3.3 million users. During FY19, some 39.7 million transactions amounting to Rs1,722.2 billion were processed through internet banking. Moreover, 26 banks are providing mobile phone banking facility with 5.6 million registered users. These users processed 41.1 million transactions involving Rs866.8 billion using mobile phone banking applications (apps).
As many as 56,911 point of sales (POS) machines processed 72.4 million transactions valuing at Rs366.2 billion during the previous fiscal year ended June 30, 2019.
The e-banking channels, comprising real time online branches (RTOB), ATMs, e-commerce, internet, mobile phone and call centers/ IVR banking, collectively processed 869.8 million transactions valuing at Rs58.8 trillion (65% in terms of total number of transactions). “These transactions showed significant growth of 15% and 24.1% in both volume and value of transactions over the year,” SBP said.
In a major move towards addressing the challenge of access to finance to farming community, the State Bank of Pakistan has amended its prudential regulations of agriculture financing, small and medium enterprises (SME) financing and corporate and commercial banking by allowing banks to accept electronic warehouse receipts as collateral for lending against storage of agriculture produce and commodities.
Warehouse Receipt Financing (WHRF) is a mechanism whereby farmers, traders and processors may avail financing facility from banks while collateralising their produce and agricultural commodities as a security stored in accredited warehouses. “WHRF would benefit small farmers who usually find it difficult to access credit from banks due to non-availability of agricultural land as collateral. Further, WHR financing would provide liquidity to commodity market and help in improving food security and price stability.”
The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has notified the Collateral Management Companies (CMC) Regulations 2019 in July 2019. Under these regulations, any private entity can form a collateral management company which would accredit warehouses to store agricultural commodities and issue warehouse receipts eligible for banks loans.