VRG Ready To Prepare Launch Commercial Services In Pakistan

VRG is ready and prepared to launch the commercial services in Pakistan as soon as PTA issues VRG. the Commencement Certificate in Pakistan. 

VRG Ready To Prepare Launch Commercial Services In Pakistan

VRG (Virtual Remittance Gateway) appreciates PTA’s support and its patronisation in helping VRG launch AMA Scheme and VRG understands the fact that PTA is yet to issue the final Commencement Certificate.

VRG is helping the poor and unbanked masses in Pakistan and supporting the government of Pakistan and honourable Prime Minister of Pakistan’s mission of financial inclusion of the poor people of Pakistan.

VRG’s objective is clear, VRG’s path is clear and VRG’s mission is sacred. In this sacred mission VRG cannot think of violating the law or the license conditions. VRG has always been cooperating with PTA and will continue to cooperate and work together with PTA to succeed in this sacred mission.

VRG is ready and prepared to launch the commercial services in Pakistan as soon as PTA issues VRG. the Commencement Certificate in Pakistan.  

As PTA has not yet issued us the Commencement Certificate, VRG neither launched commercial services nor has charged the business partners (CMOs and the banks) or customers for AMA Scheme.

As per PTA’s directive of 08 June 2020 VRG has signed Commercial Agreements with SCO and JAZZ and is close to signing similar agreements with ZONG, Telenor and Ufone. These commercial agreements are in addition to VRG’s agreements with the commercial banks, i.e. Bank Alfalah Limited 2.

Telenor Microfinance Bank, 3. Mobilink Microfinance Bank, 4. U Microfinance Bank, 5. Finca Microfinance Bank, 6. Habib Bank Limited, 7. United Bank Limited, 8. Meezan Bank Limited, 9. Askari Bank Limited, 10. MCB Bank Limited, 11. JS Bank Limited, 12. First MF Bank Ltd. and 13. Allied Bank Ltd.

As a background to the readiness, it may be relevant to state that VRG received TPSP license from PTA on 16th January, 2018 and PSO/PSP License from SBP on 17th April, 2017.

VRG applied for SBP commencement certificate on 3rd March, 2020 and received SBP Final Authorization / Commencement Certificate on 9th April, 2020 after SBP’s Stress Testing # 1: 19th December 2019, Stress Testing # 2: 26th December 2019, Stress Testing # 3: 3rd March 2020 and Stress Testing # 4: 10th March 2020. PTA conducted their inspection for Commencement Certificate from 1st January 2020 to 8th January, 2020 and compiled their report on 10th January 2020.

On this basis we were expecting PTA to either issue a Commencement Certificate to VRG or ask for yet another inspection (s) if there was any requirement for additional inspection.

Since then VRG has been repeatedly requesting PTA for issuance of the Commencement Certificate, requesting PTA for a meeting and the latest formal communication in this regard was sent to PTA on 4th August, 2020, and the last request for meeting with DG licensing was made on 10th August, 2020.

PTA did not give VRG any formal reply for any additional requirements and did not issue VRG a Commencement Certificate till date.

As far as VRG’s advertisement on 14th August 2020 is concerned, it was issued to create awareness among the masses on the occasion of “Independence Day”.

As this day will not come until the next year, VRG thought, in all good faith, that it is appropriate to take people of Pakistan on board on VRG’s preparedness and “readiness to launch” the commercial services soon and to give people the gift of AMA Scheme, but this gift will not be given until PTA allows VRG to do so, for which people have been waiting since many years.

In its Advertisement VRG has not in any manner mentioned that it has launched commercial services (in Pakistan or AJK & GB) without PTA’s Commencement Certificate.  VRG has intentionally avoided the words “Launch” and “Commencement of operations” and only talked about readiness and being commercially operational.

Since, VRG started the pilot phase on PTA’s direction, the people of Pakistan have opened 108,280 AMA accounts and completed much more than 3.2 million transactions, all free of cost.

VRG is bearing all these costs for all these activities to help poor people and satisfy PTA’s requirements under the law and the license conditions. VRG has not charged any of its business partners for these transactions.

In the meanwhile, PTA issued its own press release and advised the public at large and our business partners to stop using AMA Scheme without even allowing VRG an opportunity of being heard or waiting for VRG’s feedback and reply to PTA’s own given deadline of three and half hours.

This is not only illegal and contrary to the provisions of Pakistan Telecommunication (Re-organisation) Act, 1996 and Article 10-A of the Constitution of Pakistan but against all just and fair norms of the society.

PTA punished VRG without giving VRG an opportunity of being heard or defending its position. VRG reserves its right to challenge this hasty and uncalled for action of PTA, which was without application of its judicious mind and contrary to law and justice.  

VRG is of the view that Financial inclusion scheme was initiative of SBP from whom VRG already had a license and Final Authorization (Commencement Certificate) since April 9th, 2020. It would have been appropriate if PTA had consulted SBP prior to issuing the press release and causing VRG, the AMA Scheme and SBP’s initiative an irreparable loss and damage.

As PTA’s press release mentions AJK&GB, VRG has not mentioned AJK &GB in its advertisement and still clueless from where PTA picked this up; VRG just highlighted the status of its integration with SCO, which is a fact and does not amount to any violation as VRG is not launching any AMA Scheme in AJK & GB without PTA’s express permission/License.

To remove any other doubts or misunderstanding we are taking the liberty of PTA’s self-explanatory letter no F. No.15-107/18 (CA)/PTN326 dated 08 June 2020 addressed to all CMO’s with copies to all concerned, the operative part of which reads “It is inform that VRG has implemented its USSD platform as per clause 1.4 of its license. This platform is required to be connected with CMOs.

VRG’s platform has also been connected with various banks and is performing technical services for mobile banking I AMA scheme. We have reviewed the functionality of AMA scheme/ licensed TPSP services based on the pilot project, and PTA is of the view that VRG/TPSP may engage in commercial arrangements with CMOs as it has established its own USSD platform.

Further, TPSPs and CMOs are required to ensure functionality for the provision of TPSP services as per QoS KPls. Accordingly, CMOs are requested to finalise their agreements with TPSPs for commercial operations at the earliest please. This is issued with the approval of the Authority.”

Nevertheless , even after issuance of PTA’s fallacious, hostile and hasty press release , which potentially put PTA’s own licensee’s (VRG’s) credibility and reputation at stake; VRG acted thoughtfully, maturely and responsibly , rather than accusing PTA of serving a “vested interest”,  it assured PTA within the deadline (which was probably the shortest timelines given by PTA for submitting a compliance report in its regulatory history to any licensee of PTA) that VRG will not launch the commercial operations till the time.

PTA formally issues VRG the long awaited Commencement Certificate and VRG will continue to cooperate with PTA and will try its best to meet PTA’s requirements to PTA’s satisfaction.

It may be noted that the Telecom Law makes it mandatory for PTA to promote and protect the interests of users of telecommunication services in Pakistan and protect the rights of the its licensees, which VRG believes so far PTA failed to do so in VRG’s case.

Originally published at The nation