Digital banks important for improving financial inclusion, says SBP governor

KARACHI: State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Reza Baqir on Friday, emphasized the importance of the role of digital banks in promoting financial inclusion by providing affordable financial services to unserved and underserved segments of the society.

The SBP governor was attending an online event, “Digital Banks – A New Era in Banking” organized by the central bank. 

The objective of the webinar was primarily to create awareness about digital banks and the potential they offer for financial inclusion in the country. 

SBP Governor Dr. Reza Baqir, in his keynote address highlighted the potential of digital financial services to become ubiquitous in the banking industry and its significance in terms of inclusion and innovation. 

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Discussing the prospects of digital banks in Pakistan, he emphasized that  one of the key goals of SBP was to promote inclusion, innovation, and modernization of the financial sector of Pakistan. 

He emphasized SBP’s expectations from digital banks in promoting financial inclusion by providing affordable financial services to unserved and underserved segments of society, alongside fostering a new set of customer experience.

Dr Baqir highlighted how digitization of financial services is picking up pace and is transforming the way banking is done for both individuals and businesses. 

He mentioned that Pakistan’s journey for digital financial services started in early 2000s, and since then, a number of enabling regulatory initiatives were launched, notably, Branchless Banking Regulatory Framework, Electronic Money Institutions Regulations, Roshan Digital Account, RAAST, Customers’ Digital Onboarding Framework, and Asaan Mobile Accounts. 

He added that Licensing and Regulatory Framework for Digital Banks is another milestone towards digital transformation and a major step towards revolutionizing our banking services industry. 

The event was attended by prominent members of the banking community, fintechs, business fraternity and government agencies. 

While giving his welcome address, SBP Executive Director Banking Policy and Regulation Group Arshad Mehmood Bhatti, informed the audience that SBP will grant up to five licenses for digital banks, as SBP intends to bring digital banks with strong value proposition, robust technological infrastructure, sufficient financial strength, technical expertise and effective risk management culture. He assured the market participants and potential investors that his team will remain available to provide necessary guidance in this regard.

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