SBP rolls out QR codes for Eid

Hopes to enable banks to access over Rs550-600b in cattle purchases via digital banking

Salman Siddiqui May 25, 2024
The market has once again won and forced the SBP to fall in line. PHOTO: FILE


Pakistan’s central bank is set to facilitate the purchase of sacrificial animals using a QR code-based payment mechanism via mobile phones and Raast, the instant payment system, at cattle markets nationwide during the upcoming Eidul Azha.

The initiative aims to assist both customers and merchants in avoiding the burden of carrying heavy cash amidst security concerns. Additionally, QR payments could potentially enable banks to access over Rs550-600 billion in cattle purchases through digital banking during the annual festival.

Speaking at the 17th International Conference titled ‘Mobile Commerce 2024,’ Ahmed Sumair, Joint Director of the State Bank of Pakistan’s Payment System Policy and Oversight Department, stated that the central bank is collaborating with 25 banks to implement QR code payments in 50 major cattle markets ahead of Eid in June 2024.

“People can scan QR codes generated by merchants via mobile phones on Raast or through other mobile applications provided by commercial banks,” Sumair said, as reported by Total Communications, the conference organiser. The QR code payment method is also accessible on Raast via basic keypad phones, offering free financial transactions.

Although QR code payment systems have been available in Pakistan for some time, their non-interoperability limited their utility. Raast has introduced an interoperable QR code, allowing individuals to make payments between different banks through mobile banking.

The SBP official mentioned that markets in all 15 cities with SBP field offices, including Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, and Hyderabad, have been identified. “We are covering six cattle markets in Karachi alone this Eid.”

The project aims to address various challenges, including the inconvenience of carrying cash and making payments for sacrificial animals. Additionally, it seeks to onboard cattle farmers and promote financial inclusion through Raast.

The adoption of QR code payment methods is expected to revolutionise the payment experience, particularly for small merchants who may not afford the high costs of installing POS machines.

Moreover, QR payments enable small merchants to accept online transactions, reducing reliance on cash in the economy. This move aligns with SBP’s strategic objective of reducing high levels of currency in circulation by expanding digital acceptance points nationwide.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 25th, 2024.

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