In light of the growing cases of coronavirus across Pakistan and the globe, the Pakistan Central Bank has announced a number of steps to ensure that banks and ATMs are supplied with uninterrupted desinfected currency.
In its circular, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) stated that the bank staff often deals with banknotes, coins and negotiable instruments, which include cheques, payment orders, banker’s cheques, and similar instruments.
“All the instruments which serve as a medium of exchange…could serve as a habitat for the virus, as apprehended by some agencies and researchers,” the central bank said. Therefore, the SBP has taken some measures in order to ensure safe, secure and socially responsible banking practices.
The banks shall, therefore, should encourage their customers to use digital means for payment and settlement of their transactions; for the purpose, the banks must engage their clients through SMS updates, bank’s websites and advertisements in traditional as well as social media.
Secondly, the banks may inform their customers, preferably through digital means, that the basic hygiene practices like washing of hands and using hand sanitizers/ disinfectants, should be adopted soon after touching banknotes, coins, and other paper-based instruments.
The central bank said that the environment of every bank’s branch should present the image of socially responsible banking service. Specifically, the staff engaged in processing banknotes, coins, and other banking instruments must be provided with necessary protective gear and provisions such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizers/ disinfectants.
It further added that the banks maintaining the accounts of hospitals and clinics shall make necessary arrangement with them whereby cash collected from such clients shall be disinfected, sealed and secured separately and shall be quarantined until further order, and the amount of quarantined cash shall be reported by the banks on consolidated basis electronically at email@example.com.
The SBP directed the banks that the cash collections from all other sources should also be handled with due care and should preferably be disinfected in addition to authenticating, sorting, and packing as required under the Currency Management Strategy (CMS).
It said that Cash-in-transit (CIT) companies provide cash transportation services to the banks and therefore, in order to keep the cash supply chain operational, the banks shall require all their cash service providers, including CIT companies, to ensure availability of their services during this critical period.
Banks shall also require their cash service providers to follow good hygiene and safety practices while transporting and handling the cash. The guards of CIT companies must be using gloves and masks during the course of their duties, besides encouraging such companies to make available to their security staff provisions like hand sanitizers/ disinfectants so that safe and secured transportation of cash may be ensured.
SBP said that from 6th April 2020 till further orders they shall issue either fresh cash or the re-issuable cash quarantined for fourteen (14) days or more. The SBP BSC offices have sufficient stock of such cash; if needed the banks can obtain the same from SBP BSC well before the 6th April 2020. They can also use the fresh banknotes already issued to them under Eid quota.
Furthermore, the ATMs shall also be replenished with fresh banknotes or with the ATM-fit re-issuable notes taken from SBP Banking Services Corporation from 6th April 2020.