The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has launched a new Raast Person-to-Merchant (P2M) payment service to make it easier for merchants and businesses to accept digital payments. This move is expected to significantly boost digital payment adoption in Pakistan.

Benefits for Merchants:

  • Multiple payment modes: Merchants can accept payments through various methods like QR codes, phone numbers, bank accounts, and Request to Pay (RTP).
  • Seamless integration: Regulated entities (REs) must enable Raast P2M features by March 1, 2024, including QR code scanning, RTP processing, and push payments.
  • No fees for customers: REs are instructed not to charge customers any fees for using Raast payment options.
  • Efficient interfaces: REs must provide user-friendly interfaces for customers to make payments easily.
  • Instant confirmation and real-time statements: Customers receive instant transaction confirmations and have access to real-time account statements through apps and internet portals.

Timeline for Adoption:

  • Existing merchants: Existing merchant acquiring REs must complete Raast integration by March 31, 2024.
  • Billers and bill-aggregators: All billers and bill-aggregators must be enabled for Raast payments by March 31, 2024.

Promoting Raast Adoption:

  • Waived service charges: Merchant service providers (MSPs) are advised to initially waive off service charges to encourage Raast adoption.
  • Specialized services and incentives: MSPs should collaborate with other REs to offer specialized services, packages, discounts, and loyalty programs.

Building a Robust Ecosystem:

  • Dispute resolution: REs must develop comprehensive frameworks for dispute resolution, liability management, and risk management for merchants and third parties.
  • Cybersecurity: REs must take necessary steps to prevent data loss, fraud, and misuse of the Raast P2M service.

Raast’s Initial Success:

  • Over 32 million account holders have enrolled in Raast.
  • 225 million transactions totaling over Rs4.6 trillion have been completed on the Raast platform.

The launch of Raast P2M is a significant step towards building a cashless society in Pakistan. By making it easier for businesses to accept digital payments and offering customers convenient and affordable payment options, Raast is expected to accelerate the adoption of digital payments across the country.

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