Seven new Payment System Operators/Payment Services Providers (PSO/PSP) are set to commence their operations in Pakistan to form a landscape of payment digitization system through various services.
The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has issued in-principle and pilot approvals for these operators. Some of these operators have commenced their pilot operations, along with their business partners, while a couple of operators received approval for multiple services.
According to the central bank, these entities will work as electronic platforms for clearing, processing, routing, and switching electronic transactions.
These operators can make agreements with banks, financial institutions (FIs), other PSOs and PSPs merchants, e-commerce service providers, and any other company for services mandated to the PSO and PSP under a set of rules.
SBP has set up a requirement of Rs. 200 million for paid-up capital for these operators. Among these new entrants are NIFT (Pvt.) Ltd. and Avanza Priemer Payment System, and Foree Pay.
NIFT (Pvt) Ltd and Avanza Priemer Payment System have been granted licenses to initiate their pilot operations to operate an e-commerce payment gateway. Whereas Foree Pay started its services of Payment Initiation Services/Account Information Services based on pilot projects under the license. These operators were granted permissions in 2019 and 2020.
Some other operators have received approvals since 2016, but they have yet to commence their pilot projects. Among these are TPL Rupiya, Infotech, Mobidirect, Zingdigicomm, and Euronet.
TPL Rupiya received in-principle approval from the SBP for Mobile Payment Switch. Infotech also received in-principal approval for an e-payment gateway and automated clearinghouse. Mobidirect was approved for an e-commerce payment gateway. Zingdigicomm was granted permission for e-commerce payment gateway and person-to-merchant payment. Euronet received in-principle approval for Bulk Transfers and Instant credit/Invoice fee-based Payments Processing.
The central bank clarified that the in-principle approval letters are granted to PSOs/PSPs are based on the information submitted by the recipients and after review of their application for in-principle approval under Rules for PSOs/PSPs. “It must not be construed as an endorsement of the PSOs/PSPs proposed business model, financial viability, etc. by State Bank of Pakistan.”
The SBP also said that it will not be responsible for any financial, legal, and reputational loss to any entity or individual who has established a business relationship with the respective PSO/PSP based on the In-Principle approval letter.
In addition to the above-mentioned companies, four payment operators are already working across Pakistan. A couple of these are notable with widespread operations across the country, along with connectivity with major banks in Pakistan to provide various services to customers.
For instance, 1Link Guarantee Ltd. has been operating since 2015 with various services portfolios, including ATM Switch, IBFT and Utility Bill Payment Service, PayPak Scheme, and POS switch.
Furthermore, three operators are also providing services to customers directly and indirectly through their partner banks.
NIFT and Virtual Remittance Gateway have been providing their services since 2016 and 2017 for paper-based instrument clearing and the electronic payment gateway, respectively, while Webdnaworks has been functional since last year for White Label ATMs.
SBP had earlier issued approvals to seven new EMIs in 2020.
The new emerging players in the market are coming up with various innovative solutions in the financial sector with the integration of technology. The participation of these new entities not will attract local and foreign investment in the financial sector but will also accelerate the pace of digitization of the economy in the country along with the enhanced level of convenience to customers and the stakeholders.