The State Bank of Pakistan has established QR code-based payment standards to speed up retail payment digitisation. These standards must be met for QR code issuance and payment acceptance.
This programme is part of SBP’s drive to enhance payment system inclusivity, innovation, and modernisation. Dr. Reza Baqir, Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan, announced the development and issue of a single QR code in August 2021. Pakistan has joined the list of countries that have issued a single country wide QR code standard to promote low cost digitalization of payment systems, especially at retail level.
QR code-based payments are gaining worldwide popularity due to their low cost and ease of usage. However, in Pakistan, financial institutions’ QR codes are not frequently based on industry standards and have limited interoperability, resulting in poor adoption and utilisation. SBP organised an industry consultative committee to develop standardised QR code standards based on EMVCo’s QR Code Specifications for merchant payments. EMVCo is a global technical body that manages and evolves the EMV Specifications and related testing processes. The Standards are designed to be flexible, with data items designated for scheme, acquirers, and SBP.
SBP has issued two QR code-based payment variations: one for person-to-person payments and the other for person-to-merchant payments. Banks and financial institutions would use the P2P standard to produce customised QR codes for their consumers, allowing them to accept payments via mobile apps.
This standard would also be used to accept and process merchant based payments via mobile apps, comparable to card based payments. By June 30, 2022, all financial institutions offering digital payment services must have mobile apps that can scan and process any QR code issued under the new standard.
The Standards also encourage the creation of domestic payment schemes to provide Pakistanis with an efficient and cost-effective payment option. It will also enable a fully interoperable QR code issuance method with embedded information about numerous payment schemes, allowing customers to choose from a choice of available schemes. This will reduce the quantity of QR Codes at the merchant sites. SBP recently introduced the P2P version of its quick payment system, Raast, which would also support QR-based payments.