Image Source: YouTube

The Honorable Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Imran Khan launched the second phase of Raast, called Person-to-Person instant payment system in a ceremony in Islamabad today. Raast, a flagship initiative of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) is a payment system platform that enables various types of transactions among different stakeholders such as organizations, businesses and persons. The objective of this initiative is to promote digitization and financial inclusion in the country. In the first phase of Raast, launched in January 2021, transactions from organizations to persons, generally referred to as Bulk Payments, were enabled. The second phase is designed to facilitate Person-to-Person (P2P) transactions under Raast.

The Prime Minister congratulated Governor SBP Dr. Reza Baqir and his team for the successful completion of the second phase. He was addressing a gathering of Ministers, Presidents, and CEOs of Banks, SBP officials, and other distinguished guests at the Prime Minister House in Islamabad. He appreciated that the newly launched system will enable ordinary people to execute digital payments instantly, securely, and conveniently without paying any fee and added that Raast will open doors of further innovation for the economy and particularly the financial sector. He expressed his confidence that through digitization of the economy, the over 220 million population could be converted into an asset by ensuring their financial inclusion.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister for Finance and Revenue, Mr. Shaukat Tarin appreciated the SBP for the progress made in digitization and expressed his confidence that the forthcoming phases of Raast including payment to merchants will play an important role in facilitating the masses in their financial transaction thus increasing their valuable contribution in the economy.

Governor SBP Dr. Reza Baqir welcomed the Prime Minister on the launch event and expressed gratitude for his commitment and support to the SBP initiatives for promoting digitization and financial inclusion in the economy. Governor Baqir, while highlighting the key features of Raast, explained that individuals can use this platform in their transactions just like cash and they will not have to pay any fees or charges for using this payment system. More importantly, Raast is secure and convenient and free of risks compared to cash. Raast is easy and simple to use as it allows connecting bank account to user’s mobile number, called Raast ID. The facility can be used on mobile apps and internet banking portals of banks. For those people who do not have a mobile phone or facility of
internet banking, Raast P2P service is also available in bank branches.

To avail Raast, customers should check SBP’s Raast landing page to see if their bank is already offering Raast—currently more than 18 banks, processing majority of retail payment transactions, are offering Raast services —and register one time for Raast in their bank’s mobile app, through internet banking or by visiting a bank branch. Remaining banks are expected to be on boarded with Raast in the coming weeks. Customers may also see the following YouTube video tutorial on registering and using Raast:

Dr. Baqir explained that Raast is Pakistan’s first instant payment system established in accordance with the National Payment Systems Strategy, which was prepared by State Bank of Pakistan and launched by the President of the World Bank in 2019 when he visited Pakistan. This project is a major initiative of State Bank of Pakistan, and with the launch of Raast, Pakistan is now in an exclusive list of countries that have these state-of-the-art instant payment systems. He assured that SBP is committed to launching more innovative features in Raast to further promote digitization and financial inclusion.

On SBP’s efforts to promote digitalization of payments and economy, Governor SBP highlighted that in January SBP issued a digital bank licensing framework that provides flexible requirements to set up digital banks in Pakistan. For now, only five licenses for Digital Banks will be issued and interested parties can apply for a license until March 31, 2022. It may be noted that during the fiscal year 2021, 1.2 billion transactions of USD500 billion value were processed through retail e-Banking channels. These transactions showed year-on-year growth of 30.6% in volume and 31.1% in value.