SBP bars foreign payments from Pakistan directly through carriers2 min read
Telcos in Pakistan, in a recent meeting with telecom ministry, said that restricting these kinds of payments — or direct carrier billing — would adversely affect several IT businesses, payments of Netflix. Amazon Prime Video and other freelancers who do not want to show their credit card, debit card and banks’ account to foreigners
ISLAMABAD: The State Bank of Pakistan has barred foreign payments from Pakistan through Direct Carrier Billing (DCB).
The telcos in Pakistan, in a recent meeting with telecom ministry, said that restricting these kinds of payments — or direct carrier billing — would adversely affect several IT businesses, payments of Netflix. Amazon Prime Video and other freelancers who do not want to show their credit card, debit card and banks’ account to foreigners.
The telecom industry is agitating against a central bank restriction that bars users from making international payments directly through their mobile carriers, a method that makes paid media services and mobile gaming more accessible to customers on a global scale, especially those who don’t have bank accounts or credit cards.
The sources informed that the representatives of Jazz, Telenor, Ufone and Zong met the ministry IT member, Junaid Imam, and presented their concerns. The official told them that the matter would be forwarded to the IT minister and secretary.
Meanwhile, sources in the ministry said that the telecom representatives were told that the app purchases and other subscriptions could also be made through credit and debit cards, and the SBP had only restricted the DCB gateway for international payments.
Currently, around $60 million is paid annually through mobile carriers to pay for some apps and tools or subscription fees of several over-the-top (OTT) platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, sources said. Comparatively, IT exports stand at around $2 billion a year and are projected to grow.
The payment method can come in handy for, say, freelancers who want to pay for a tool but don’t have other payment options.
An executive said that authorities must realise that everybody didn’t want to expose their digital cards, including credit cards, for online purchases fearing scams, and many freelancers working in remote areas, especially women, did not have credit or debit cards.
The DCB payments are made by the telcos under Para 14 of Chapter 14 of SBP’s Foreign Exchange Manual, under which IT-related payments equal to or below $100,000 can be processed through banks or banking agents.
On the other hand, the telecom sector insists that paying bills through the telephone system under the DCB is a safer option.
In this connection, the IT ministry has assured the telecom sector that their concerns would be forwarded to the finance ministry and the SBP.
At the same time, the four telcos operating in the country have been told by the IT ministry officials to inform their subscribers that the DCB gateway had been blocked and launch an awareness campaign that payments could be made through other digital modes.