SBP launches ‘RAAST’ Person to Merchant payment service

KARACHI - State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Wednesday launched an interoperable RAAST Person-to-Merchant (P2M) payment service to facilitate digital payment acceptance for merchants and businesses. As part of Raast implementation project, the SBP instructed banks, Micro Finance Banks (MFBs), Electronic Money Institutions (EMIs), Payment System Operators (PSOs) and Payment Service Providers (PSPs) to enable Raast P2M service for their customers, said a statement issued here.
The Raast P2M system will enable merchants to accept payments through different modes including Unified Quick Response (QR) Codes, Raast Alias (such as mobile phones), bank accounts (IBAN), and Request to Pay (RTP). The technical specifications in this regard have already been shared with REs. A circular issued by SBP’s Digital Finance Group requires all regulated entities (REs) to enable the capabilities such as Read/Scan RAAST QR Codes, Process Request to Pay (Now and Later), Push Payments to merchant RAAST Aliases and IBANs and initiate the request for returns or refunds in their respective Apps by March 01, 2024.
The REs were further instructed to provide efficient, seamless and easy to use interfaces to their customers while they were also directed not to charge any fee from their customers using Raast payment options to pay for their transactions. To ensure maximum adoption of digital payment through Raast P2M Service, all REs were instructed  not to restrict number and amount of transactions performed by their customers, provide instant transaction confirmation and make account statements available for customers on digital channels -apps and internet portals- in real time.
The SBP has also instructed the existing merchants acquiring REs to complete the integration with ‘RAAST’ for enabling their respective merchants and e-commerce players to accept payments through ‘RAAST’ P2M service by March 31, 2024. Further, all REs shall ensure that billers/bill-aggregators already on-boarded by them are also enabled to accept payments via Raast payment options by March 31, 2024. All the REs were also required to devise comprehensive dispute resolution, liability and risk management frameworks for on-boarded merchants as well as for third parties along with taking necessary steps to prevent loss of customer data and funds due to cyber security threats as well as preventing frauds and misuse of Raast P2M Service.
SBP has also advised merchant service provider (MSPs) to initially waive off service charges and enter into agreement with other REs to offer specialized services, packages, discounts and loyalty programs to promote adoption of Raast merchant services. For creating awareness about Raast Merchant Services and promoting its adoption, all REs including MSPs would take necessary measures including designing and launching media and on ground campaigns, promotional activities and strategic alliances. The enablement of RAAST P2M facility is likely to give a big boost to the SBP digitization efforts enabling hundreds of thousands of vendors across the country to receive payments against the goods and services in their accounts on real time basis.

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