Banks asked to improve digital payment system

KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan on Monday directed the banking industry to improve acceptance of payment cards across the country.

The directive is aimed at boosting digital payments and promote financial inclusion, the central bank said.

The banks are now bound to offer the domestic payment scheme card- PayPak – to customers as first priority, the SBP further said.

Cards of international payment schemes like Visa, MasterCard and Union Pay could be issued on request.

The Merchant Discount Rate, the fee charged by banks from merchants, will now be in the range of 1.5-2.5pc, it said.

The distribution of revenues generated from a merchant among card issuer, card machine deploying entity and the payment scheme company has also been rationalised to keep the incentives equitable among all the players.

According to the central bank, measures were expected to increase payment card acceptance access points in the country. This would in turn help digitize the economy and promote financial inclusion.

The central bank has also allowed the use of Pakistan Real Time Interbank Settlement Mechanism (PRISM) for the settlement of cheques. It is expected to reduce the processing time for payment clearance instruments in the far-flung areas.

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