The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has Re-authorized Commercial banks to charge customers for Internet Funds Transfer.

SBP instructed banks to offer digital money transfer services (IBFT) to selected customers free of charge up to a minimum aggregate limit of Rs 25,000 per month for an account holder. However, banks can also set a higher total limit. This will allow individual customers to make as many free money transfer transactions as possible while staying within the total monthly free transfer limit.

For transactions exceeding the total limit of Rs. 25,000 per account per month, banks may charge individual customers a transaction fee of up to 0.1% of the transaction amount or Rs 200, whichever is lower.

The Inter-Bank Funds Transfer (IBFT) fees were suspended by SBP in March-2020 to promote Digital Banking amid COVID19 pandemic situation. Since then Banks has been offering IBFT services at no cost to all their customers, regardless of transaction size, to address the Covid-19 pandemic situation.

The aim was to make it easier for bank customers to meet their banking needs with online services in very difficult times and to avoid personal interactions in order to limit the spread of COVID.

The move generated overwhelming customer response, with online and mobile banking transactions doubling in the second quarter of fiscal year 2021 compared to last year. SBP thanked all service providers for supporting this initiative by providing free interbank money transfer services to the public without reimbursement of operating costs and significant loss of income.

It is encouraging that the Covid-19 situation has improved significantly and, despite fluctuating cases, the general conditions now allow for the relaxation of movement restrictions while adhering to appropriate standard operating procedures. Against this backdrop, SBP has revised the current IBFT pricing mechanism and made some changes to ensure that IBFT services are provided free of charge by banks and other financial institutions on a sustainable basis.

The new guidelines allow banks and other service providers to charge minimum fees for high-value transactions, protecting and encouraging low-income populations to continue to use digital transactions for free.

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