According to the latest reports, SBP has issued guidelines for the downtime of digital services in Pakistan. In addition, the State Bank of Pakistan instructed the financial institutions to notify customers and SBP of any planned activities leading to digital service disruption.
SBP Guidelines for Digital Services Downtime
According to SBP, the use of digital channels and the reliance of customers on conducting day-to-day transactions has increased significantly in recent years. It has also been established that customers are not informed in a timely manner in the event of a service failure. As a result, people are faced with service inconveniences. That is why SBP has taken this step to provide guidelines for Digital Services Downtime. A set of new instructions has been issued to facilitate the customers of the financial institutions to ensure that customers are informed in a timely manner about service interruptions due to planned or unforeseen activities.
Under the guidelines, all regulated entities (RE) must inform customers and SBP of planned activities that may result in service disruption. In addition, financial institutions must inform customers at least two days in advance through various communication channels. They should not be limited to just SMS alerts, social media platforms or in-app notifications. The institutes must also inform SBP of planned activities at least one week in advance.
If the downtime exceeds the planned duration by more than two hours, this must be communicated to customers immediately. SBP must therefore also be reported.
Guidelines also suggest that in the event of an unexpected service interruption lasting more than thirty minutes, all customers should be immediately notified of the service interruption through the communication channels. Although estimated time of recovery of services and SBP should be communicated.
The SBP guidelines require all regulated entities to establish mechanisms to continuously monitor social media platforms. This should be done to proactively identify and address customer complaints or issues related to digital channel availability. Let me tell you that REs include:
- Microfinance banks
- Payment System Operators (PSOs)
- Payment Service Providers (PSPs)
- Electronic money institutions (EMIs)
The point worth noting is that previous instructions regarding the notification of planned downtime for the payment card system and clause 10(V) of PSD Circular No. 3 of 2018 regarding the temporary unavailability of EFT services should be withdrawn. It doesn’t matter if it’s due to planned maintenance or system upgrades. Any non-compliance will result in criminal action under relevant laws and regulations.
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