Economy, Business And Markets

CBI Working to Improve, Expand Payment Industry

CBI Working to Improve,  Expand Payment IndustryCBI Working to Improve,  Expand Payment Industry

Connecting to international payment networks is high on the Central Bank of Iran’s agenda in this fiscal year that started on March 20, said Davoud Mohammad Beigi, head of CBI’s department of payment systems.

 “We have been holding talks with Japan’s JCB and China’s UPI payment networks as they are two big players in Asia and Europe,” the CBI website quoted him as saying on Sunday.

“The central bank wants international payment services to be offered at low cost to Iran,” he said, adding that the regulator insists rial transactions take precedence in domestic networks.

The interbank information transfer network, SHETAB, launched in 2002, is a key player in the electronic transactions network in Iran. Checkavak, an automated clearing house system for checks, PAYA, Iran’s electronic clearing house, and SATNA, internationally known as Real Time Gross Settlement, are among online provisions the central bank has launched in recent years.

“In the last fiscal year, Shetab hosted 13.5 billion transactions with a total worth of 19.45 quadrillion rials ($642 billion), Mohammad Beigi said.

“Data for the previous year suggests a 25% growth in the number of electronic payment transactions. We also recorded a 17% surge in the total value of transactions in that period.”

The official referred to the creation of Iran’s e-check system, Chekavak, saying it was another CBI achievement. “The network cleared a total of 127 million checks in the previous year, which was beyond expectation.”

 Raising the Bar

Mohammad Beigi noted that the CBI is trying to improve domestic payment services and bring it in line with international norms while promoting the use of credit cards.”

“About 30% of payment terminals in Iran are compatible with international network standards. But further research should be conducted for assessing the compatibility of the current payment system with global standards because we were disconnected from international networks during the sanctions years.”

The CBI paid 120 billion rials ($3.9 million) to customers in compensation for failed/delayed foreign payments, the official said.

He noted that only about 2.5% of transactions had failed during the month ending March 19. “PSPs (Payment Service Providers) have been asked to take necessary measures within three months to minimize the errors – a time when transactions are expected to pick up after a period of slowdown.”  

 Paymentwall Claim Denied

Mohammad Beigi, also told MNA on Monday that the CBI has not held any talks with Paymentwall to integrate its payment services into Shetab.  Managers of other companies active in electronic banking also said the connection of Shetab to Paymentwall is not possible without CBI coordination and this needs to be pursued at a macro level by CBI authorities.

Paymentwall, a San Francisco online payments company, announced on April 12 that it has integrated its payment services into Shetab, which is a ‘unified, electronic clearance system for the entire Iranian banking operations that allows it to facilitate transactions from credit cards, ATMs and point-of-sale (POS) terminals.’