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Pakistanis to be Allowed Google Play Store Purchases Via Debit, Credit Card

Google said on Monday that as a result of national regulations, users in Pakistan will only be able to make Google Play Store purchases using credit or debit cards starting from December 1st, 2022. All users in Pakistan can access Google Play now and in the future. The range of accepted payment methods could however, alter over time.

Google Play to Remain Available for Pakistani Users

All users in Pakistan can access Google Play now and in the future. The range of accepted payment methods could however, alter over time. Users in Pakistan will only be able to make Play Store purchases with credit or debit cards starting from December 1st, 2022, according to local regulations, a Google spokeswoman announced.

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Behind the Story

The State Bank of Pakistan cancelled direct carrier billing (DCB) for mobile carriers, bringing the stuck-up overdue money to $34 million. The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecom, and four mobile operators then sent a letter to the central bank.

Amin Ul Haque, Minister of Information Technology and Telecom, stated in a letter to Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar that SBP authorized payments for IT-related services, like as mobile app purchases and subscription services, under $100,000 when made through the certified commercial banks.

SBP however, removed banks’ designation to handle payments for IT-related services on behalf of telecom operators and cellular mobile operators in September 2022.

According to the statement, “this revocation has limited the telecom operators to paying global IT platforms like Google, YouTube, Meta, and Spotify, etc. for the operator-facilitated digital services and related customer payment process referred to as Direct Carrier Billing, which is a standard mechanism offered by Cellular Mobile Operators (CMO) in the world with significant tax value.”

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The minister added that while providing these services, mobile carriers in Pakistan gave the national treasury a contribution of almost Rs. 5.3 billion in the previous year. According to the statement, “all the main players, including Google play, Amazon, and Meta, are affected by non-payment and are most likely to stop providing their services in Pakistan.”

In order to prevent the DCB from suspending the authority of specific banks to send money for IT-related remittances on behalf of telecom operators and to make sure that the unpaid invoices to foreign digital platforms are paid on time, he enlisted the aid and attention of the finance minister.

Recent off-site reviews according to the SBP, showed that Telcos were using the DCB mechanism to transmit funds for video games and other entertainment products that their customers had purchased with airtime, in addition to using it for sending funds to IT-related services for their own purposes.

Will it Affect Country’s Reputation in Any Way?

If Google notifies mobile operators that their DCB services will be suspended until all outstanding payments have been made, this might cause considerable political unrest, harm the nation’s reputation as a place to invest, and have a significant negative impact on the national economy. Jazz and Ufone also received notices, which might have a significant effect on the digital sector.

SBP therefore, removed the designation of banks for Telcos for such payments in light of the violation of foreign exchange regulations. However, Telcos have been instructed by their banks to resubmit their requests in order to facilitate their lawful IT-related payments. If a Telco or other business wants to act as a payment aggregator or intermediary and the transaction includes the outflow of foreign currency, the entity must independently contact SBP through its bank to request specific approval to do so, in accordance with the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1947.

 

About the Author: Marium Qureshi

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