SBP gets 20 applications for digital bank licences

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KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) received an overwhelming response for digital bank licences, as 20 applications were received from a diverse range of applicants including domestic commercial banks, microfinance banks, electronic money institutions and FinTech players.
The central bank in a statement on Wednesday said that it has concluded the process of receiving applications for digital banks licences as per its announced deadline of March 31, 2022.
The SBP said that foreign players already operating in the digital banking space overseas have also expressed their interest to venture into the Pakistani market. The strong interest shown by both local and international players in SBP’s digital banks’ initiative reflects their confidence in the financial sector of Pakistan and the potential of the investment opportunities available in the country, said the statement.
Earlier this year on January 03, 2022, the SBP launched its “Licensing and Regulatory Framework for Digital Banks”. While setting the foundation for the customers’ convenience, providing cost-effective digital financial services and promoting innovation for achieving SBP’s overall goal of digitisation in the banking business, the framework is primarily aimed at providing financial services to unserved and underserved segments of society.
To achieve the intended objectives under this regulatory initiative, the applications were solicited from interested applicants who can demonstrate a strong value proposition, the robustness of technological infrastructure, the sufficiency of financial strength, a high level of technical expertise and the effectiveness of their risk management culture in the Digital Banks’ space, said the statement.
The SBP developed and finalised this framework after an extensive consultative process. Initially, the SBP released an exposure draft of this Framework and a targeted survey was launched to invite feedback from a wide range of local as well as international stakeholders.
Subsequently, a number of meetings were held with all the stakeholders to further enrich the consultative exercise. Later, SBP also organised two interactive webinars with leading local as well as international speakers to discuss the opportunities and challenges associated with digital banks as well as disseminate awareness about Pakistan’s digital bank licensing framework, the statement said.
During the application window opened from January 03 till March 31, 2022, SBP has remained extensively engaged with all the interested applicants and held various rounds of discussions/ meetings with all of them.
Moreover, the SBP team also remained committed to provide exclusive support and necessary facilitation required for the preparation and submission of applications to all the applicants. This initiative of State Bank would greatly help in providing financial services to underserved and unserved segments of society. – TLTP