SBP to ensure provision of 'disinfected cash', availability of ATMs amid virus crisis

Banks instructed to quarantine all cash being collected from hospitals, says official statement

​ Our Correspondent March 23, 2020
Banks instructed to quarantine all cash being collected from hospitals, says official statement. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has taken several measures to facilitate the financial consumers during coronavirus crisis including provision of 'disinfected cash' and round-the-clock availability of ATMs in the country.

"Banks will provide fit, authenticated and disinfected cash. SBP will ensure to clean, disinfect, seal and quarantine all cash being collected from hospitals and clinics and to block circulation of such cash in the market," the central bank said in a statement issued following a meeting, chaired by SBP Governor Reza Baqir and attended by private bank’s presidents and other officials, on Monday.

The SBP said arrangements are being made to provide disinfected cash to banks enabling them to issue fresh cash or "the re-issuable cash that remained in quarantine for at least 15 days to their clients".

Private banks have been ensured that SBP has sufficient quantity of fresh cash to meet the demand, read the statement.

"All critical functions and systems required to provide banking services, including Real Time Gross Settlement System (RTGS) will remain available as usual even during the lock downs."

The central bank said only those branches can remain closed where any member of staff is diagnosed with coronavirus or "where requisite human resources are not available" to avoid the congestion in the operative branches which is counterproductive for social distancing measures.

"In these difficult times the banking industry will provide socially responsible banking services and facilitate their clients in every possible way."

The official communique further read, "continuous availability of ATMs will be ensured by keeping them up and running 24/7 by the banks. Banks’ call centers and helplines must also be operative 24/7 and timely resolution of the complaints shall be ensured."

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