In order to promote digitalization and encourage eco-friendly practices, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has developed online portal called SBP Regulatory Approval System (RAS) to enable regulated entities (Banks, Electronic Money Institutions, Payment System Operators and Payment Service Providers etc.) to submit cases/proposals and receive regulatory decisions digitally.
Previously, SBP implemented RAS for its various functions aimed at end-to-end digitalization, whereby banks were enabled to electronically submit cases related to Banking Policy & Regulations and Exchange Policy.
With the launch of RAS, Banks, Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) and Microfinance Banks (MFBs) started submitting their request letters/ proposals on a dedicated online portal to SBP’s Banking Policy & Regulations Department.
Earlier in October 2020, SBP launched the SBP FX RAS for end-to-end digitization of Foreign Exchange (FX) related case submission process. The objective of this initiative was to provide a fully digitalized platform to the business community and individuals in approaching banks for their foreign exchange related requests.
The system turned out to be a huge success as it enabled the customers to lodge their FX related requests from the location of their convenience and also enabled banks to submit FX related cases electronically for regulatory approval of SBP and SBP-Banking Services Corporation (BSC).
In a similar vein, RAS for Payment Systems Policy & Oversight is being rolled out for industry-wide implementation. RAS will make submission of requests and proposals by regulated entities efficient, easy to track and paperless. Moreover, it will also allow the dissemination of regulatory decisions to regulated entities electronically through RAS portal.
RAS will run in parallel with manual (conventional) mode of case submission for a period of one and a half months whereby regulated entities will continue to submit cases manually (as well as digitally through RAS). To facilitate users of RAS, a Service Help Desk has also been set up where complaints regarding business and technical aspects of RAS may be lodged.
Service Help Desk User Manual is prepared to help users navigate through Service Desk. This will allow SBP to identify and address potential issues that may arise during live operations. The move is expected to create trust and allow regulated entities to get used to the new system.
State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has launched a series of videos in national and regional languages about agriculture financing products and procedures to create awareness among the farming communities across the country, especially in the underserved areas. These videos will be disseminated through social media and digital platforms of SBP and all agriculture lending banks.
Lack of awareness among farmers about agriculture financing products and services remains one of the challenges for banks to access rural markets and extend outreach of formal financial services to the farming communities.
Capacity building and awareness creation is, therefore, an important area of focus amongst SBP’s various initiatives for promotion and development of agriculture financing in the country.
SBP has been organizing various awareness and capacity building programs for farmers; however, farming communities still lack awareness at the grassroots level to avail and optimally utilize formal financial services.
In order to address this lack of awareness and to broaden the scope of SBP’s campaigns, the potential of digital media is being explored. Rapid penetration of internet and increased usage of smartphones across the country has presented an opportunity to harness digital platforms for disseminating information instead of relying on conventional awareness sessions, which have limited outreach.
The use of digital medium is not only helpful in spreading the message to a wider audience in a timely and cost effective way, but also enables such messages to have higher rate of comprehension and retention.
The first video in this series covers the overall agriculture financing landscape of the country, SBP’s initiatives and GoP’s schemes, all from a farmer’s perspective. Keeping in view the need for enhancing accessibility of credit in the diverse underserved areas, this video has also been translated into three regional languages apart from Urdu, i.e. Sindhi, Balochi and Pashto.
The next two videos in the series focus on crop and non-crop sector, including information regarding agriculture loan products, and diving deeper into the procedures and documentation required for both segments.
It is expected that these videos will help the farming community to overcome their reluctance in availing credit from banks.
To augment its initiative and achieve greater reach, agriculture lending banks will also share these videos on their respective social and digital media channels which will encourage banks to develop similar informative videos on product and financing opportunities to agro-based businesses as well.