Circulars/Notifications - Digital Innovation & Settlements Department  
 DI&SD Circular No. 1 of 2022
February 03, 2022 

The Presidents/CEOs
All Banks, EMIs, PSOs & PSPs

Dear Madam / Sir

Raast Person-to-Person (P2P) Payment Service

State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) is implementing Pakistan’s Instant Payment System “Raast” to offer instant, reliable and free person-to-person payment services to the people of Pakistan with the objective of promoting digital financial services and financial inclusion. The first phase of the system, “Raast - Bulk Payments”, was launched on 11th January 2021 and is live since then.

2.    The second phase of Raast, which enables instant Person-to-Person (P2P) fund transfers and settlement, is now being launched. Customers would be able to send and receive funds using either their International Bank Account Number (IBAN) or their Raast ID. Initially customers would be able to use their registered mobile numbers as their Raast ID and link it to any of their bank account for conveniently receiving funds.

3.   In this regard, in terms of Section 3 of the Payment Systems and Electronic Fund Transfers Act, 2007, SBP is pleased to issue the following directions:

  1. Raast Participant Banks (banks) shall make the service available on at least 3 channels i.e. mobile apps, internet banking portals and over their branch counters within the timelines earlier provided by SBP;

  2. Funds successfully transferred through Raast should be credited into the recipients’ accounts within 20 seconds of receiving the credit advice from Raast System. The successful transaction should be reflected in the account statements of both the sender and receiver within this time period and the customers should receive credit/debit confirmation advice on their registered cellphones, email addresses and via in-app notifications, where available. The credit/debit advice shall clearly mention all the relevant details including name of the counter party and Raast Mode of payment;

  3. In case a transaction is rejected, the sending customers shall receive rejection advice on their registered cellphones, email addresses and via in-app notifications where available, clearly mentioning the reason for rejection. Transactions performed through Raast shall either be credited into the recipient’s account or rejected; and in no case the sending/receiving banks are allowed to hold customer funds into their own accounts;

  4. All transactions conducted through Raast would be final and irrevocable;

  5. To promote adoption by customers, banks shall not levy any charges on Raast related services and all transactions conducted through Raast would be free for end customers. To facilitate banks, SBP will also offer free of cost Raast services to banks;

  6. To encourage adoption of digital payments, banks shall not assign minimum transaction size; however they may allocate appropriate upper transaction limits to their customers considering their risk profile, type of account etc. without stifling their ability to make payments. To facilitate customers, the upper limits shall not be less than PKR 200,000 per transaction or the transaction limits applicable as per the account type and prescribed by SBP from time to time. Further, Banks shall not restrict the number of transactions performed by their customers unless there are genuine fraud/cyber security related concerns; and

  7. While banks shall take all necessary measures to protect customer transactions, they shall ensure that the user experience remains smooth with minimum hassle to encourage adoption. In this regard, Banks are encouraged to use more proactive and user friendly measures instead of cumbersome techniques like requiring passwords received via multiple channels at the time of transaction.

4.   In order to ensure smooth functioning of Raast services, banks are also advised to:

  1. Maintain sufficient liquidity in their Raast Settlement Account held with SBP, especially during weekends and long holidays and conduct timely reconciliation between Raast and RTGS settlement accounts;

  2. Ensure continuous and uninterrupted availability of all channels on which Raast services are being offered i.e. Mobile App, Internet Banking, Over-The-Counter (OTC) services and others. For this purpose, banks shall strengthen their Service Level Agreements (SLAs) with their software, hardware, network and any other service providers. Any planned or scheduled maintenance activity that may result in the disruption of Raast services, must be communicated to SBP and customers at least two weeks in advance. In case of unplanned disruption, banks must immediately inform their customers through SMS, email and other available means, and report the disruption to SBP along with the reason and targeted time of resumption;

  3. Ensure availability of fully equipped 24/7 Network Operations Center (NOC) and Security Operations Center (SOC), well equipped with proactive and comprehensive cyber threat and fraud monitoring and prevention mechanisms;

  4. Ensure 24/7 availability of call center /helpdesk fully equipped with agents who are well versed with Raast functionality, and an effective customer complaints and dispute resolution mechanism for timely resolution of customer issues; and

  5. Ensure that branch banking officials/staff are also well informed about Raast functionality and are capable of providing guidance to the public about Raast system and its operations.  

5.   Participant banks shall take all measures to encourage their customers to use Raast services and facilitate them in its usage. In this regard, they shall ensure that customer awareness messages are broadcasted through SMS, emails and digital/social media platforms. Further, the participating banks shall place their Raast services/offerings prominently on their mobile apps and internet banking portals beside placing standees/ roll-ups at prominent locations in their bank branches.

6.   In addition to the above, SBP may also issue specific instructions to the participating institutions, from time to time.

7.   Please acknowledge receipt of this Circular via an email to [email protected].

Yours sincerely,

(Muhammad Imaduddin)
Additional Director

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