State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has refused, claims that payments to Google are not stuck at Central Bank.
In a statement, the central bank called such allegations “unfounded and misleading” and said it “strongly refuses all such allegations”.
1/2 Recent news in some sections of media about stopping certain payments to Google by #SBP, are baseless and misleading. SBP strongly refutes all such assertions. See PR: https://t.co/OOnQBrQVoX pic.twitter.com/Rx11bobDLB
— SBP (@StateBank_Pak) November 26, 2022
Illustrating the situation, the central bank stated that, in order to facilitate domestic firms, the SBP would purchase certain information technology (IT) related services from abroad for these firms’ own use, where they could purchase them for up to US$100,000. I stated that I specified to make a foreign exchange payment. A person could afford the bill.
State Bank of Pakistan
According to State Bank of Pakistan statement, such services include satellite transponders, international bandwidth, internet, leased line services, software licenses, maintenance, support, electronic media and database usage services. Businesses wishing to use this option will specify a bank once approved by the SBP. After designation, the central bank added that such payments could then be processed through designated banks without regulatory approval.
According to SBP, a recent off-site review found that telcos used the aforementioned mechanism to not only transfer funds for IT-related services for their own use, but also transfer funds for video games, entertainment content, etc. Turns out I sent most of it too. Customer purchased airtime under Direct Carrier Billing (DCB).
Direct Carrier Billing (DCB)
DCB is generally an online mobile payment method that users can purchase by charging their mobile operator’s bill. The telecommunications company has allowed its customers to purchase the above products during airtime and to remit funds abroad reflecting such transactions as payment for the purchase of IT-related services. In this way, telcos actually acted as intermediaries/payment aggregators by facilitating the purchase of services by subscribers.
SBP eventually removed the designation of banks and telecoms for such payments due to the violation of foreign exchange laws. However, telcos have been instructed by their banks to resubmit their requests in order to support their lawful IT-related payments.
Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1947
If a telco or other business wants to act as a payment aggregator or intermediary and the arrangement involves the outflow of foreign currency, the entity must separately contact SBP through its bank to request specific approval to do so in accordance with the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1947.
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