SBP issues advisory to all banks for combating coronavirus
Asks all financial institutions to encourage customers to use Alternative Delivery Channels
To ensure uninterrupted availability of financial services in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has issued an advisory to banks, listing measures that should be taken to stop the spread of COVID-19.
A circular from the central bank said that the SBP is continuously engaged with the industry to understand issues and challenges and formulate a policy response accordingly.
It conducted a flash survey that covered all banks, Development Financial Institutions (DFIs) and Micro Finance Banks (MFBs). As per the results, the banking industry has started to take preventive measures to limit adverse repercussions.
“However, the results also indicate diversity among the industry participants in terms of their readiness to handle any worst-case scenario.”
Therefore, the central bank advised all banks and other financial institutions to take the following measures to combat Coronavirus:
- Create awareness amongst the banks/DFIs/MFBs’ staff and customers regarding COVID-19.
- Implement the guidelines issued by the World Health Organization, the Government of Pakistan and the Provincial Governments, in letter and spirit, to ensure the safety and health of employees and cleanliness at the workplace.
- Take precautionary measures such as enhanced usage of cash counting machines, encouraging customers to use Alternative Delivery Channels (ADCs) etc. to reduce contact with currency notes and other financial instruments. Further, make elaborative arrangements to provide uninterrupted financial services through ADCs (e.g. ATMs, online banking, transactions through call centres, etc.).
- Reassess Business Continuity Plans (BCPs) in the existing situation and develop suitable remedial plans, including allocation of human and other resources, for their effective implementation.
- Carry out an impact analysis to assess the consequences on business and operations and enhance the monitoring frequency of key risk areas like credit, capital market, and foreign exchange exposures.
- Reach out to the key payment and settlement system partners such as NIFT, 1Link, NCCPL, and CDC to ensure continued availability of their services.