» » » » Mobile Bank Acc - #PTA invites applications for establishing an electronic platform for mobile bank account holders

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has invited application from participants interested in establishing an electronic platform that would enable mobile bank account holders to conduct financial transactions across the country. 

The development of a single electronic platform removes existing barriers hindering a branchless bank account holder (called wallet) at a particular mobile phone network to conduct financial transactions with account holders on other mobile phone networks and at conventional bank branches.

“The licensee should be capable of switching and routing all interbank wallet-to-wallet and wallet to bank account fund transfers,” reads the Information Memorandum for licence applicants.

SBP Executive Director Syed Samar Hasnain said the other day the platform would not only enable people to carry out financial transactions via their smartphones, but people having a simple feature phone could equally take advantage of the platform.

The award of the licence would help the State Bank of Pakistan achieve its goal of providing 50% adult population access to banks by 2020. It would also help keep more mobile bank account holders activated going forward.

The Information Memorandum reads 46% of the mobile banking accounts (m-wallets) in the country were inactive in the third quarter of fiscal year 2016. The total number of m-wallets stood at 16.9 million as on September 30, 2016.

The licence applicants have been named Third Party Service Provider (TPSPs), which may be any firm from within the country or a foreign entity.

According to the central bank director, “people could pay their utility bills while firms could disburse salaries and pensions via that application. The application {platform} would also help people to make payments to their dry cleaner, milk vendor, barber and etc”.

Transactions would definitely have financial limitation and caps, he said.

The platform would help develop a formal economic system in the country. “The theme of the App [platform] is to reduce transactions in hard cash and avoid chances of money theft, he said.

Licence fee

The licence winner would pay an initial fee of Rs1 million within 15 days of the intimation letter from the PTA to issue TPSP licence.

The licensee shall pay the Annual License Fee to PTA, an amount equivalent to 0.5% of the licensee’s annual gross revenue from licensed services. Besides, it shall deliver PTA an unconditional, irrevocable and continuing Performance Bond worth Rs.10 million in shape of bank guarantees.

“In case any phased-roll-out obligation is not fulfilled, Performance Bond proportionate to the roll-out obligation not met shall be enchased by the Authority,” the Memorandum said.

According to the latest data, four mobile phone companies in the country serve 137.09 million customers. Almost 28%, or 38.26 million of them, are users of 3G/4G mobile internet as on January 31, 2017.

All cellular mobile operators have active mobile banking arrangements with banks for the provision of m-banking services known as Easy Paisa by Telenor, Time Pey by CM Pak, JazzCash by Mobilink/Jazz, U-Paisa by Ufone and Mobile Paisa by Warid.

In addition to this, there are other standalone banks offering mobile banking services including Omni by United Bank Limited, MCB Lite by MCB Bank, HBL Express by Habib Bank Limited and JCash by JS Bank.

Mobile banking agents have been instrumental in the expansion of mobile financial services to un-banked and far-flung areas where traditional bank branches are not available. As of end June, 2016, the combined mobile banking agent network of all providers increased to 352,000, which are 29 times the commercial bank branches (12,000) in Pakistan.

Over 437 million m-banking transactions worth over Rs2, 097 billion (approx $20 billion) were made in 2016, the Memorandum said.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 9th, 2017.

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