In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 through cash, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has issued directives to commercial banks to ensure the circulation of clean and disinfected currency notes in the system.
While the central bank has instructed commercial banks to promote digital banking among the customers, it has asked banking institutions to seal and quarantine cash being collected from hospitals and clinics in order to block the circulation of such currency notes in the market.
In this regard, banks shall report daily collection of cash from hospitals to SBP, which shall credit the bank’s accounts for the amount quarantined by them. Further, arrangements are being made to provide sufficient fresh or disinfected cash to banks enabling them to issue fresh cash or the re-issuable cash that remains in quarantine for at least fifteen (15) days to their clients.
These decisions were made in a meeting held by SBP under the chair of Governor Reza Baqir with the presidents of banks through video link mainly to assess their readiness to ensure uninterrupted supply of banking services to clients in the wake of lockdowns and closure of cities by Federal and Provincial Governments due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Banks have been ensured that SBP has a sufficient quantity of cash that will meet all demands.
Moreover, all critical functions and systems required to provide banking services, including Real Time Gross Settlement System (RTGS) will remain available as usual even during the lockdown.
Banks will ensure cash availability in ATMs 24/7 including call centers and helplines which must also be operative 24/7 for timely resolution of the customers’ complaints.
Banks will inform the public using all available means of communication including advertisements in print and social media for promotion of digital banking and cashless payments and funds transfers.