State Bank of Pakistan Launches Digital Cheque Clearing Services Through NIFT

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Following the recent announcement by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) at the fifth stakeholders’ meeting on Digital Financial Services, SBP, through its circular letter reference PSD/LCPS/9654/2021, has formally launched Digital Cheque Clearing through National Institutional Facilitation Technologies (Pvt.) Ltd (NIFT).The cheque clearinghouse of Pakistan aims to bring efficiencies in the existing cheque clearing process benefiting all parties involved in cheque-based payments.

NIFT, in close coordination between SBP and stakeholders involved, had developed and rolled out an Image-Based Clearing System (IBCS) for the pilot launch. Following SBP’s formal launch announcement, NIFT is commencing the rollout of IBCS from September 6, 2021, in multiple phases.

The initial implementation phase will support the electronic presentment of cheques which will enable electronic approval of cheque images and data by the banks thereby resulting in an early settlement of funds into payee accounts compared to existing approval cycles based on evaluation of physical cheques. This is aimed to bring Pakistan on par with international practices for digital cheque clearing.

In subsequent implementation phases, cheque truncation services will be offered to enable the capture of physical cheques digitally from presentment directly by the bank or by Payer/Payee via supported digital media such as mobile devices.

Digital version of paper cheques, called “eCheques” offering enhanced convenience and security on top of all existing features of paper cheques will also be supported during implementation phases by NIFT to realize the full potential offered by digital cheques clearing to promote adaptability and convenience for cheque-based payments.

Speaking on the occasion, Haider Wahab – CEO NIFT, said, “We are delighted and honored to rollout IBCS. After over two decades of paper-based clearing, with the launch of IBCS Pakistan ushers into advanced clearing services leading to cheque truncation.”“We greatly appreciate SBP support and its close guidance on this initiative and making it possible. We also recognize the Pakistan Banking Association and the banking industry for their contribution in the launch of Digital Cheque Clearing in Pakistan,” he added.

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