KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has extended a number of measures taken to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 from their original deadline of June 30 and September 30, to December 31, according to three circulars issued on Monday.
Specifically, the SBP extended the amended Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Combating Financial Terrorism (CFT) regulations for banks and microfinance banks and amended regulations surrounding branch-less banking.
In circulars issued earlier on March 26, the SBP had said that banks and microfinance banks should use National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) Verisys instead of biometric verification for verification purposes to mitigate possible risks of identity theft.
According to the SBP, this was done “in order to help mitigate the risk of spread of Covid-19, which may arise from physical contact/interaction during account opening activities”.
This measure has been extended from June 30 to December 31 for banks. In the case of microfinance banks, biometric verification will resume on January 31, 2021 for medium priority customers, and on March 31, 2021 for normal priority customers.
In addition, banks can now use NADRA Verisys instead of photocopies of required NADRA identity documents and biometric verification’s wherever required. Banks should also update records of their customers with regard to their postal address or email address or registered mobile number or landline number. The same stands true for microfinance banks.
Banks and microfinance banks will now not need addresses of the originator and beneficiary in wire transfers, but will only require their CNIC or passport numbers.
These changes were made in light of the fact that the SBP noted that customers, including overseas Pakistanis, had been experiencing problems in opening bank accounts, ensuring financial transactions and generally getting financial services.
The SBP has also extended several of its measures aimed at increasing branch-less banking from September 30 to December 31. These include biometric verification on legacy branch-less banking level “1” accounts and the ability to withdraw or deposit up to Rs25,000 per month in branch-less banking level “0” account without biometric verification.
There is also no daily transaction limit on branch-less banking level “0” accounts on payments to entities like schools, hospitals, utility companies, or merchants. The monthly transaction and account balance limits, which were increased to Rs500,000 for non-biometrically verified merchants, will also stay in place until December 31.
However, biometric and business place verification’s at the time of agents’ on-boarding through digital channels, will also continue.