From January 1, 2019, all commercial banks and mobile financial service providers (like Easy Paisa and Jazz Cash) will stop charging you for text messages you receive after making financial transactions.
Currently, many banks charge close to Rs100 per month for sending you an SMS after you withdraw cash from an ATM or make an online payment. The service can be useful, as customers can immediately alert their bank in case of unauthorized access, but it is a paid feature that comes with a federal tax, which discourages consumers from availing this security layer. Many people simply don’t want to pay the fee.
The change of policy is the result of a series of instructions the central bank has issued to commercial banks whose poor state of information security was exposed by a recent wave of cyber-attacks.
Banks and other financial service providers shall send free of charge transaction alerts to their customers through both SMS and email for all international and domestic digital transactions, the SBP has said.
Information security experts who have worked with our banks say these commercial entities sit atop big data, customers’ private information, but spend little to nothing to protect it. The SBP, often criticised for not taking strict action, finally woke up and instructed all banks to take strict security measures for better security of their payment and information systems.
The following are some of the points from the SBP’s instructions to the banks.
Failure to comply with these instructions will lead to a penalty including but not limited to the suspension of non-compliant digital payment products and services of the banks and financial service providers.