National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) is going to launch a card-based home remittance service to facilitate the masses and overseas Pakistanis. Talking to Business Recorder, SEVP/Group Chief Global Home Remittances Management Group NBP and Chairman of NBP Exchange Company Limited, Khalid Bin Shaheen said the soft launching of this card has already been made by the bank and the official launch will be announced soon.
“This will be called NBP remittance card and a person, regularly receiving remittances from the bank, will be offered to open a bank account in NBP to get this card, which will be like a debt card and the customer can withdraw money through ATMs across the country as per its requirement,” he added. The new product will retain customers and provide new opportunities including loan facilities and different benefits, etc. The customers will be provided incentives such as gift to promote the services and attract new customers, he maintained.
“New services will provide a facility to customers to withdraw their cash through ATMs of NBP and different banks whenever and whatever, whereas it will reduce pressure on the staff who are extremely busy in dealing with customers for providing them cash on their accounts of salary, pension and utility bill payment,” Shaheen added. National Bank has aggressively extended its remittance correspondence base across the globe to facilitate overseas Pakistanis and discourage the use of illegal channels. Despite concerted efforts, still some amount is being sent by illegal channels such as Hawala and Hundi, he said.
“Inflows of the country’s home remittances could touch $20 billion mark annually with some efforts such as timely payment of rebate and further facilitation,” Shaheen added. Talking about exchange companies, he said exchange companies can also play an important role in enhancing remittances and the SBP may allow them to manage remittances. However, strict monitoring and regulation is necessary before allowing remittances handling, he added.
Shaheen said the delays in payments of rebates to foreign partners was directly hurting efforts to boost inflows and now the foreign exchange companies are not offering an impressive rate to overseas Pakistanis. He said NBP started a proper remittance business four years backs and presently, it has some 10 percent share in the country’s overall remittances value that was recorded at $15.8 billion in the outgoing year of 2013-14.
National Bank is working exclusively to boost its share in landing remittances for Pakistan through expanding its network of international branches operating in 22 countries. It has introduced products such as “NBP Foree Cash” and “NBP Foree Transfer” some four years back to promote its business.
“Remittance through NBP is immediately available to beneficiaries in Pakistan at any of 1,300 branches nation-wide without having the need for maintaining account,” he added. The Middle East region constitutes 65 percent in the overall remittances sent by Pakistanis whereas the UAE is one of the leading countries after Saudi Arabia which generate billions of dollars foreign exchange for Pakistan, group chief NBP said.
So far, NBP has made agreement with over 35 leading partners abroad for timely delivery of home remittances sent by overseas Pakistanis and similar several international agreements are in process, he added. He said in a major strategic move, NBP created a separate independent group named Global Home Remittances Management Group in 2009 to focus on inward home remittances business and currently NBP is leader in home remittances business. National Bank has also established a dedicated and efficient complaint handling system to address queries of remitters, Shaheen said.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2014