State Bank of Pakistan Launches Raast Person to Merchant Service to Boost Digital Payments

State Bank of Pakistan Launches Raast Person to Merchant Service to Boost Digital Payments

Karachi, December 5, 2023 –The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) officially unveiled the Raast Person to Merchant (P2M) Service on Tuesday for advancing digital payment solutions in Pakistan.

This launch is part of the broader Raast implementation project, aiming to accelerate the digitization of merchant and business transactions across the country.

The State Bank said the Raast P2M service is designed to facilitate instant digital payments for businesses and merchants through various channels, including Quick Response (QR) Codes, Raast Alias, International Bank Account Number (IBAN), and Request to Pay (RTP). The central bank has already shared technical specifications with relevant entities to ensure seamless integration.

As part of the implementation plan, all Registered Entities (REs) are required to enable specific capabilities for processing P2M transactions through their delivery channels, including mobile apps, internet banking portals, and USSD channels, where applicable, by March 1, 2024.

To encourage widespread adoption of the Raast P2M Service, REs are mandated to design efficient, user-friendly interfaces, refrain from charging fees on customer transactions, and not impose restrictions on transaction amounts unless for legitimate concerns such as fraud, cybersecurity, or Anti-Money Laundering (AML) issues.

Additionally, Raast Merchant Service Providers (MSPs) play a crucial role in onboarding businesses, deploying QR codes, and enabling various payment acceptance modes for merchants. This includes Request to Pay (Now/Later) transactions, IBANs, Merchant Alias, and both Static and Dynamic QR codes.

MSPs are required to provide immediate payment confirmation or rejection advice to merchants, ensure real-time fund crediting, and establish robust frameworks for dispute resolution, liability, and risk management. Emphasis is placed on preventing cybersecurity threats and fraud, adhering to international best practices.

To promote Raast adoption, MSPs are encouraged to waive initial charges for their services, co-brand their check-out services with Raast P2M, and enter agreements with third parties for billing and invoicing services.

Existing merchant acquiring REs are instructed to complete necessary integrations with Raast P2M, enable Raast payment acceptance, and replace legacy QR codes with Raast-enabled P2M QR codes by March 31, 2024. Other entities interested in becoming Raast MSPs must communicate their intention to SBP’s Digital Innovation & Settlements Department (DI&SD) and fulfill the necessary technical requirements for integration.

All REs are obligated to ensure that billers and bill-aggregators under their purview are capable of accepting payments via Raast RTP by the specified deadline.

To create awareness and promote Raast Merchant Services, all REs, including MSPs, are expected to launch media and on-ground campaigns, promotional activities, and strategic alliances.

Non-compliance with Raast-related instructions will result in punitive action under the provisions of the Payment Systems and Electronic Fund Transfer Act, 2007. All REs are required to submit their compliance status to the DI&SD by April 1, 2024, duly signed by the Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Chief Compliance Officer (CCO).

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