ISLAMABAD, JAN 11 – Prime Minister Imran Khan Monday launched Pakistan’s first instant payment system – Raast – to enable end-to-end digital payments among individuals, businesses and government entities instantaneously.
The Prime Minister while addressing the gathering termed the launch a major step forward by the State Bank of Pakistan towards Digital Pakistan and said it would help include the low income groups and make them part of the mainstream economy. He was optimist that it would go a long way in fighting poverty, particularly in the rural areas.
Raast is part of Prime Minister Imran Khan Digital Pakistan vision to include poor segments of the society in formal economy.
The Pakistan’s Faster Payment System, Raast, would be used not only to settle small-value retail payments in real time but also provide cheap and universal access to all players in the financial industry including banks and fintechs.
Imran Khan said the instant payment system would not only document the economy, but also generate more taxes to help build the country. He regretted that only two million people in a country of 220 million paid taxes, which was not enough to build hospitals, schools and provide other basic facilities of life for the common man. He said only 3000 of the tax payers, pay 70% of the tax.
He said Pakistan’s foreign remittances have been constantly on the rise for the past five months, and has helped stabilize the Pakistan Rupee. He said after a gap of 17 years Pakistan’s current account has gone into surplus and, lowered pressure on Pakistan Rupee and played a key role in strengthening the national economy.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said the program would help give a boost to the Ehsaas program; particularly its mobile wallet and extend its reach to the women in the rural areas. He said his government was working for the empowerment of rural women folk and have been included in various economic activities.
Prime Minister Imran Khan extended gratitude to Queen Maxima of the Netherlands and the Pakistan and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for their support in the launch of the program.
According to the data available with the State Bank of Pakistan, digital payments only account for 0.2% of Pakistan’s 100 billion transactions today, whereas the share of digital transactions in the peer countries ranges from 1.5% to 7%.
Pakistan has had low electronic transactions due to low banking penetration, lack of trust and awareness of digital payment methods, limited interoperability, difficult accessibility and high cost of transactions. However, Raast, the new Instant Payment System would facilitate retail payment settlements with much great efficiency.
Instantaneous payments: Near real-time digital payments across individuals, merchants, businesses, and government entities
Low-to-no transaction costs for end users: Raast is designed to operate at a cost recovery model to make digital payments affordable to end users of all socio-economic backgrounds
Full sector-wide interoperability: Raast would allow all financial institutions to seamlessly connect to each other via a single link to the central infrastructure, making digital payments accessible across any channel to customers of any financial institution
Customer-centric innovative products/services: Raast would be built on cutting-edge technological standards, allowing financial institutions to develop innovative and user-friendly digital payment products and services like payment through phone number or email.
Reliability and enhanced security: Raast would introduce more secure payment types, ensure that each transaction was authorized by the payer, and offer enhanced data protection and fraud detection services.