The Arab Monetary Fund (AMF) and the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Announce the Interlinking between Buna and Raast and the Inclusion of Pakistani Rupee (PKR) in Buna

Abu Dhabi, July 9, 2024: The cross-border payment interlinking between Buna and Raast instant payment systems has reached an important milestone with the signing of key agreements among the Arab Monetary Fund (AMF), the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), and Karandaaz Pakistan.

This milestone marks the end of feasibility and design phase and moves the project to the implementation phase, with the aim to enhance cross-border payment flows between the Arab region and Pakistan. This development will also enable the inclusion of the Pakistani Rupee (PKR) as a settlement currency in Buna, in addition to the existing international and Arab currencies.

The Buna-Raast interlinking and the inclusion of PKR as a currency for cross-border instant payments will enhance accessibility and convenience for banks and their customers and provide a cost-effective experience.

The project is envisioned to bring more flows to the formal channels by addressing the critical challenges faced in cross-border remittances which are often affected by inefficiencies and high costs. The Buna-Raast project will offer a transparent and secure solution that will support the economic well-being of families and support greater financial inclusion.

Commenting on this milestone, H.E. Fahad M. Alturki, Director General Chairman of the Board of The Arab Monetary Fund (AMF) and Chairman of the Board of ARPCSO, said, "We greatly appreciate the collaboration with the State Bank of Pakistan, and the support of Karandaaz and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. By leveraging the strengths of Buna and Raast, remittances will reach their intended recipients swiftly and securely. Our joint efforts are a testament to our shared vision of advancing financial inclusion and creating lasting values for our economies."

H.E. Jameel Ahmad, Governor State Bank of Pakistan said, " Raast and Buna integration and addition of PKR in BUNA as a settlement currency is a strategic milestone aimed at increasing the speed, safety, and cost-effectiveness of remittances and other cross border payments between Pakistan and Arab countries. The collaboration will increase remittances to Pakistan through formal channels, with enhanced customer convenience and efficiency. We are committed to complete the necessary work and operationalize the connectivity between Raast and Buna in shortest possible time. On this occasion, we would like to thank the Director General Chairman of Board of The AMF and his colleagues for their instrumental support to this initiative."

Mr. Waqas ul Hasan, Chief Executive Officer of Karandaaz Pakistan said, “Karandaaz is proud partner of SBP and has implemented Raast in Pakistan. Raast is already changing the payment landscape in Pakistan. We are very excited to enter Raast-Buna partnership, this will be a transformational initiative for easing remittance inflows to Pakistan and a great example for future of cross-border flows around the world. We remain grateful to BMGF for funding and to SBP and AMF for their shared vision.” 

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Buna is the cross-border payment system operated by the Arab Regional Payments Clearing and Settlement Organization “ARPCSO,” which is owned by The Arab Monetary Fund “AMF.” Buna aims to enable financial institutions and central banks in the Arab region and beyond to send and receive payments in local currencies as well as key international currencies in a safe, cost-effective, risk-controlled, and transparent environment. Buna offers participants modern payment solutions that comply with international standards, principles, and compliance requirements. Thanks to its cross-border payment system, Buna contributes to exploring and strengthening opportunities for economic and financial integration in the Arab region, advancing financial Inclusion, and supporting investment ties with the global trading partners. Buna welcomes the inclusion of all banks that meet the criteria and conditions for participation, primarily the standards and procedures of compliance aspects.

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SBP’s 'Raast' Instant Payment System is a transformational initiative that is built on state-of-the-art international standard ISO 20022 and promises to be simple, free, fast, interoperable, and a secure payment option for customers. The first use case of Raast ‘bulk payments’ went live in 2021 which has been enabling the processing of Bulk payments such as dividend disbursements, Government to Person (G2P) payments, mutual funds payments, or private entities’ pay-roll payments by corporates. SBP launched the second use case of Raast i.e. Person-to-Person (P2P) payments in February 2022. As of July 03, 2024, more than 37 million RAAST IDs have been created by customers having performed more than 655 million transactions amounting to around PKR 14.5 trillion (around USD 51 billion). The 3rd use-case of Raast, which is Person-to-Merchant (P2M) payments has been recently deployed. Going forward, phenomenal growth is anticipated in the P2M segment, designed with state-of-the-art features like 'request to pay', easy API integrations, and a QR-based acquiring setup.