SBP Refutes Rumors of Blocked Google Payment

by Farhan Yousaf
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The SBP’s statement comes after reports in different parts of the media said that Pakistani users wouldn’t be able to use Google Play Store services starting next month because the SBP has stopped the direct carrier billing (DCB) mechanism.

Due to the country’s ongoing liquidity crisis, the Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA), the Service of Data Innovation and Telecom, and four cell mobile operators (CMOs) have always written a joint letter to the SBP asking it to change their mind about dropping the DCB system for paying the dollar charge.

Domestic Entities Now Able to Buy Foreign IT Services Up to $100K

“The fact is that, in order to facilitate domestic entities, the SBP specified certain Information Technology (IT) related services, which such entities can acquire from abroad for their own use and make foreign exchange payments there against up to USD 100,000 per invoice,” the central bank said in a statement issued on Saturday. “Satellite transponder, international bandwidth/internet/private line services, software license/maintenance/support, and service to use electronic media and databases are examples of such services.”

State Bank of Pakistan

Those who want to use this option must choose a bank, which only needs to be approved once by the SBP. According to the statement, once a bank is designated, these kinds of payments can be made through that bank without further regulatory approval.

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SEE ALSO: Pakistan’s IT exports see 2.89% increase in 1st quarter of FY23

Discover How Telcos are Making Airtime Profit!

During recent off-site reviews, it was found that telcos were using Direct Carrier Billing to send most of the money for video games, entertainment content, and other things that their customers bought with airtime. This was in addition to sending money for IT-related services they needed for their own use. In general, DCB is a way to pay for things online with a mobile phone that lets users add purchases to their phone bill.

It said that telcos let their customers buy these things with airtime and then send money abroad to show that these purchases were payments for IT-related services.

Telcos Breaking Rules? Revealing the SBP’s Investigation

“In effect, the telcos were acting as intermediaries/payment aggregators by facilitating service acquisition by their subscribers.” As a result of the violation of foreign exchange regulations, the SBP revoked the designation of banks and telecommunications companies for such payments,” it added.

It said that any company, including a telco, that wanted to act as a middleman or payment aggregator and send foreign currency out of the country had to go to the SBP separately through its bank to get special permission to do so under the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act of 1947.

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