Saturday, 3 June 2023

State Bank is all set to introduce full fledged digital banking

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) is all set to introduce full-fledged digital banking in a month to allow people performing financial transactions without physically visiting banks and to accelerate the financial inclusion drive, said SBP Deputy Governor Sima Kamil.

Addressing the 19th annual conference on Future Banking 2021 Summit on Thursday, she revealed that an intensive consultative phase for digital banking had been concluded.

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

She highlighted that the central bank had recently allowed “digital onboarding”, allowing resident Pakistanis to open bank accounts online.

She said that digital banking would offer a full range of banking services online compared to a few digital services available at present, according to a press statement.

The central bank was also scheduled to roll out the second part of its instant payment system “Raast” in November that would allow person-to-person financial transactions, she added.

“Six banks are in the phase of integration. It will be launched in November, which is our timeline and we will keep to it.”

The SBP was also working on “Open Banking”, which would be rolled out soon.

“We have actually finished a working plan. We will now have an internal steering committee on ‘Open Banking’. We are also taking assistance from … World Bank,” she said.

On the occasion, Centre of Information Technology (CIT) Director General Ammar Jaffri said that the centre had approached the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to initiate discussions to frame laws for digital currencies like bitcoin.

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

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

Businesses to be established in the zones had already been allowed to have foreign currency accounts, he said.

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