KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Wednesday said it has enabled resident Pakistanis to open bank accounts through digital channels, a statement said.
With the rapid growth in the adoption of electronic banking channels, especially amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the demand from the bank and customers for digital financial transactions have increased manifold, the central bank said.
Based on the success of the Roshan Digital Account framework, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has now devised a comprehensive “Customers Digital Onboarding Framework”, which will facilitate the banks and microfinance banks (MFBs) to conveniently and remotely open bank accounts of resident Pakistanis by using digital channels, including websites/portal, mobile applications, digital kiosks, etc.
Under this framework, the account opening process has become swift and simplified, while ensuring compliance with the applicable regulatory requirements and international standards.
The framework, in general, provides a convenient way for all segments of the society for opening bank accounts, it specifically enables freelancers, self-employed or unemployed women, and recipients of remittances from abroad to open bank accounts digitally with the minimum documentation requirements.
This initiative would also help achieve the SBP’s financial inclusion objectives by bringing the excluded segments of the society in the formal banking sector.
The framework has been finalised after carrying out an extensive consultation with the stakeholders, to obtain opinion from the industry experts and to proactively address the challenges, which the banks/MFBs might face during the implementation of this framework, the State Bank said.
While typically accounts can be opened as either Savings or Current, the framework identifies four categories on the basis of functional limits such as deposit or withdrawal limits, fund transfer limits, etc, and the documents required for opening an account.
These categories included “Asaan Digital Account”; “Asaan Digital Remittance Account”; “Freelancer Digital Account”; and the “Digital Account”.
The first category is the easiest to open requiring very basic information and the least number of documents albeit with some limits on the functionality.
The last category, i.e., “Digital Account” is without any functional restriction but needs more information for account opening, it said, adding that a customer can start with the basic account and can upgrade over time to higher level of account type when needed.
The SBP has instructed the banks under this framework to ensure that the decision to open or decline these accounts do not take more than two working days from the day of completion of all the requirements, while ensuring availability of customer support services 24/7 for facilitation.
Moreover, the banks/MFBs will also be required to provide a tracking number to the applicant for following up on the status updates.
Over the years, the central bank has provided an enabling regulatory environment for its regulated entities to facilitate various customer segments.
The SBP’s recent initiatives include introduction of the National Payment System Strategy (NPSS), instant payment system (RAAST), Electronic Money Institutions (EMIs) and the introduction of Roshan Digital Accounts (RDAs) for the non-resident Pakistanis.
The SBP has advised the banking industry to implement this framework by December 31, 2021. The central bank is confident that this initiative will help promote digitalisation of the banking services in the country apart from achieving the financial inclusion objectives.
The framework would also provide a tool to the industry and an impetus to the SBP’s initiative of banking on equality by bringing women into the financial system. It is expected that the move will result in increased convenience for the customers to fulfil their financial needs through swift and secure digital financial infrastructure in Pakistan.