State Bank strengthens consumer protection regime

Web DeskWeb Editor

12th Jul, 2021. 10:24 pm

KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Monday said it has taken various measures to enhance responsible complaint handling by the banks.

The central bank said it is in continuous pursuit of strengthening the consumer protection regime and the market conduct of the industry.

Among other efforts, the central bank is focusing on improvement in the grievance handling mechanisms at banks, microfinance banks (MFBs) and the development finance institutions with the aim to redress the grievances more affordable, accessible, fair, accountable and efficient.

For this purpose, various measures have been taken by the State Bank to enhance responsible complaint handling by the banks, as they handle more than 97 per cent of the complaints related to the banking industry, in a year.

Recently, the SBP had conducted a detailed review of the complaint handling practices at banks, primarily focusing on “ease of lodgment”, and “quick and fair disposal” of complaints.

Based on the findings of the review and the role of the complaints in improvising banking services, the central bank has directed the banks to enhance the grievance handling mechanism deployed at their end.

To make complaint lodgement at the banks easier and accessible, the SBP has prescribed mandatory modes of complaint lodgement to banks with a directive to ensure their availability and accessibility at all times.

These modes include call centres, e-mails, e-forms, surface mail, fax, and complaint boxes/registers. Additionally, the banks have also been encouraged to invest in innovative modes of complaint lodging like receiving complaints through SMS/call back service, mobile applications, self-service kiosks and other social media platforms.

Such an investment will not only boost convenience for the customers, rather it will help the banks capture/handle complaints in a better way.

The banks have also been advised to send awareness SMS messages at least on a biannual basis to create adequate awareness regarding the complaint lodgment modes deployed.

For better tracking of complaints by the customers, the provision of complaint tracking numbers in the written form has been made mandatory. Similarly, special focus has been laid on quick and meritorious disposals of complaints.

Further, the central bank has also enhanced the reporting requirements on complaint handling in the light of the international and local needs/trends. Besides, the banks have been advised to ensure provision of adequate support to complaint handling functions at banks in terms of human resources, information technology, training, etc.

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