The State Bank of Pakistan has instructed the banking industry improve acceptance of payment cards in the country, it said Monday.
The instructions were given to boost digital payments and promote financial inclusion, according to the central bank.
The banks are now bound to offer the domestic payment scheme card, PayPak, to customers as the first priority, the SBP said. Cards of international payment schemes like Visa, MasterCard and Union Pay could be issued on request.
The Merchant Discount Rate, the fee charged by banks from merchants, will now be in the range of 1.5-2.5%, it said.
The distribution of revenues generated from a merchant among card issuer, card machine deploying entity and the payment scheme company has also been rationalised to keep the incentives equitable among all the players.
The central bank said measures were expected to increase payment card acceptance access points in the country. This would in turn help digitize the economy and promote financial inclusion, it added.
The SBP has also allowed the use of Pakistan Real Time Interbank Settlement Mechanism (PRISM) for the settlement of cheques. It is expected to decrease the processing time for payment clearance instruments in the far-flung areas.
This would also help the financial institutions in these areas leverage digital channels for clearance and settlement obligations, the central bank said.