August 18, 2020

PTA Committed for Early Commercial Launch of AMA scheme

Islamabad (August 18, 2020): Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) issued two Third Party Service Provider (TPSP) licenses in 2018 to Virtual Remittance Gateway (VRG) (Pvt) Ltd and Digital Bridge (Pvt) Ltd (DBL) aimed to bring unbanked population into formal banking services. However, it has been noted that VRG while violating the legal framework and license conditions, has started an ill-intended campaign in a section of media, to malign the regulator and influence regulatory decisions.

To expedite availability of Asaan Mobile Account (AMA) scheme for general public, PTA provided all facilitation to TPSP licensees, through series of meetings and discussion spanned over several months in order to resolve the technical and financial issues between all stakeholders. However, VRG instead of recognising the efforts of PTA, has tried to malign the regulator by publishing twisted facts.

In fact, VRG has tried to put the burden of its own failures on the part of regulator. VRG has alleged in the media that PTA has delayed issuance of commencement certificate for commercial operations since Jan 2020, whereas SBP issued authorization to VRG for commercial launch on 9th April, 2020. As a consequence of SBP authorization and completing commercial agreement with mobile operator, VRG applied to PTA for commencement certificate on 4th August, 2020.

It is clarified that issuance of commencement certificate requires submission of commercial agreements by a TPSP licensee with all the Cellular Mobile Operators (CMOs). Since completion of pilot launch and inspection of VRG system in Jan 2020, PTA has repeatedly been urging VRG to expedite and submit commercial agreements for issuance of commencement certificate. However, VRG was unable to submit any commercial agreement since last 6 months until 4th August, 2020 that too with only one operator i.e. Jazz. Even the agreement with Jazz is conditional on VRG’s agreements with other operators. Under VRG’s license conditions, a 30 days prior notice is required by VRG for commencement. Hence, there is no delay on part of PTA in issuance of commencement certificate and the same will be issued after fulfilment of Quality of Service conditions and evaluation of the commercial agreement.

VRG has also reported that it has signed an agreement with SCO which has mandate to operate cell phone services in AJ&K and GB. VRG has even not been awarded any TPSP license for AJ&K and GB, a requirement to operate in AJ&K and GB. Therefore, VRG’s commercial agreement with SCO is misleading to the general public. TPSP licensee is also required to submit its agreements to the regulator, however, no agreement with SCO has been submitted yet by VRG.

Furthermore, VRG has blatantly alleged a fair regulator to favour other TPSP licensee (DBL) to put pressure on the regulator well before the 30 days notice for processing of commencement certificate, which ends on 4th September 2020. It clearly indicates licensee’s intention of covering any shortfalls in commercial agreements and technical design through pressure tactics.

PTA stays committed for an early commercial launch of AMA scheme, ensuring fulfilment of all technical parameters as defined in TPSP license, related IM and subsequent clarifications.


Khurram Ali Mehran

(Director PR)