SBP facilitates cheque based transactions amid COVID-19 pandemic

KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has issued directives for cheque based transactions in the wake of coronavirus pandemic.

The SBP on Saturday issued a notification related to facilitation regarding paper-based clearing operations in the wake of COVID-19.

The central bank said that to combat the potential spread of COVID-19 pandemic by limiting person-to-person interactions and to provide ease of services to the customers, Banks/MFBs are allowed to provide the following services to their customers:

Direct Cheque Deposit Facility under which:

a) A crossed cheque may be presented by payee/beneficiary directly into the paying/drawee bank, instead of their bank branches as per the existing practice.

b) In this case, funds may be transferred by the paying/drawee bank either through RTGS customer fund transfer – MT102 or Over the Counter (OTC) IBFT or Bank’s internal online system (in case both payer & payee banks are the same).

c) Before debiting their customer’s account, the paying/drawee bank must take all necessary precautions including but not limited to customer call back or multifactor authentication to verify the authenticity/genuineness of the instrument and verification of their respective customers. Similarly, before crediting the customer account, the payee/beneficiary bank must ensure the authenticity of the customer’s credentials as well.

Doorstep Cheque Collection Facility under which Banks/MFBs may make arrangements to collect cheque from registered addresses of their customers upon their request.

Drop box Cheque Collection Facility under which customers may drop their cheques in drop boxes of their Banks, installed in selected branches.

Banks may allow their Corporates/Priority customers to send them the scanned image of the cheque along with relevant details of the Beneficiary either through registered emails or through mobile Apps of their banks to push funds from their accounts to the payee bank.

However, such arrangement must be duly agreed with the customer under proper Terms & Conditions along with complete disclosure of risks and liabilities.

The Paying/Drawee bank shall implement all necessary controls including call back confirmation or multifactor authentication to ascertain the authenticity and genuineness of the instrument and identity of the payee. Upon satisfactory validation, Paying/drawee bank may transfer funds to beneficiary bank using MT 102 of RTGS (PRISM).

The recommended modus opernadi for options 2 to 5 is attached at Annexure-A. However, banks are encouraged to implement additional risk mitigating measures as per their internal policies while offering these services to their customers.

Further, to minimize person-to-person interaction, Banks/MFBs may also make arrangements with the Clearing House (NIFT) for clearing their cheques through Image Based Clearing (IBC) functionality as per the agreed SOPs between NIFT and banks.

While transferring funds through RTGS, the concerned Banks/MFBs shall ensure compliance with relevant clauses of PSD Circular No. 3 of 2018 on “Electronic Fund Transfers Regulations”.

Further, Banks/MFBs are advised to follow all relevant laws, rules and regulations issued by SBP from time to time.

Above mentioned measures may be made part of campaigns to create awareness in order to promote the use of clearing options as per PSD Circular No. 2 of 2020.

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