Authorised dealers allowed to buy dollars from interbank for international card transactions

A foreign money seller counts US greenback notes on this undated file picture. — AFP

In what has been termed a “welcome move”, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has allowed authorised dealers to buy dollars from the interbank market to settle card-based cross-border transactions utilizing International Payment Schemes (IPS).

“In view of representations received from stakeholders, it has been decided to allow authorised dealers to purchase USD from interbank for settlement of card-based cross-border transactions with IPS [such as Visa, Mastercard etc],” the central financial institution stated in a notification Wednesday.

The notification was relevant with fast impact and would stay in place until July 31, 2023, the SBP stated.

Previously, authorised dealers had been solely allowed to buy USD for such transactions from change firms.

Exchange Companies Association of Pakistan (Ecap) General Secretary Zafar Paracha termed the SBP notification a “welcome move”, saying that it might cut back the widening hole between interbank and open market change charges.

In current days, the native foreign money has been buying and selling over Rs300 in opposition to the US greenback within the open market. Dealers reported that the rupee’s open market fee was between Rs313-316 per USD on Tuesday. Compared to the interbank closing fee of Rs285.47 issued by the SBP on Wednesday, the distinction comes to round Rs27.53-30.53.

Any important distinction between the official and kerb markets’ charges encourages transactions exterior the formal banking system. The rising distinction between the 2 charges is pressuring the central financial institution to devalue the foreign money as well as to engaging Pakistani expatriates to ship cash house by shady means i.e., hawala.

There is a major demand for dollars within the open market due to the wants of travellers through the summer season trip and for Haj. There can be an urge for food for dollars from companies since some imports are funded by the open market.

In an announcement following the SBP’s notification as we speak, Paracha stated the SBP took the “right decision” as it might convey down the open market change fee by Rs20-25 per USD with time.

“It will also help to reduce the big gap between interbank and open markets. It will also be helpful to enhance the inflows of remittances,” he added. 

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