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For Branchless Banking, SBP Introduces Licensing and Framework

Karachi: Monday, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) reportedly approved Pakistan’s first branchless banking Licensing & Regulatory Framework. The newly created framework will first issue five licenses to banks with major technology acquisitions, and applications will be accepted until March 31, 2022.

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According to the SBP circular, the framework will permit banks to develop the technology and regulations for fully digital banks, which will deliver all banking services, including account opening, depositing, and lending, digitally, without requiring customers to visit a physical branch.

The license would permit the formation of two types of digital banks: a Digital Retail Bank (DRB) for retail customers and a Digital Full Bank (DFB) serving both retail and business clients. The licenses will be accessible in both Islamic and traditional banking, with organizations eligible to get both. The initial capital limit for banks seeking licenses would be 1.5 billion Pakistani rupees, rising to 4 billion Pakistani rupees over time.

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According to sources, the framework includes standards for license criteria, potential sponsors, and permitted use cases at various phases. In addition, candidates are required to have sound digital governance, a robust, secure, and resilient IT infrastructure, and an efficient data management strategy and set of practices. For regulatory purposes, digital banks would be obliged to maintain staff and a physical presence in the country.

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