Bangladesh bank issues guidelines on ‘Bangla QR’ payments

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The Bangladesh Bank (BB) on Wednesday issued guidelines on ‘Bangla QR’ (quick response) code-based payments for building a safe, affordable and efficient payment and settlement system at retail level. According to the “Guidelines for ‘Bangla QR’ Code Based Payments”, one individual can transact up to Tk 20,200 in case of static ‘Bangla QR’ based transactions.

The guidelines said it will help promote low-cost technology for all merchants, including the small and micro ones, to be a part of the digital payment ecosystem using QR codes instead of the currently practiced expensive acquisition process using Point of Sales (POS) devices.

QR code is a two-dimensional barcode, initially invented for the auto industry. It eventually became popular in processing payments worldwide as a contactless payment method. One can simply ‘scan to pay’ by accessing application of any mobile or digital financial services and by scanning the QR code displayed at the merchant’s checkout counter.

‘Bangla QR’ is an interoperable code-based payment acceptance solution. Merchants will be able to accept funds by using ‘Bangla QR’ from various payment instruments, including bank account, debit card, credit card, pre-paid card, MFS account and e-wallet account, the guidelines noted.

However, the number and amount for daily transaction for each account category will be determined by the issuers as per their existing policy. The central bank will determine any transaction limit deemed necessary and will provide notification to the participants regarding such limits from time to time.

The BB guidelines mentioned that some banks, payment schemes, MFSs, PSPs and PSOs have already prepared their own standards and infrastructures for facilitating closed loop/proprietary QR code based payments. This, however, has increased inefficiency in the overall payment systems.

Against this backdrop, the central bank, in consultation with the stakeholders, has developed a National QR Code Standard, named ‘Bangla QR’, for retail open loop interoperable QR code-based payments. The BB adopted EMV® Merchant-Presented QR Code Specification (EMV® QRCPS), where a merchant will display its QR code and a customer will scan the QR code using his/her financial institution’s solution.

Those, who have already introduced non EMVCO/ proprietary standard QR code, have to replace with ‘Bangla QR’ by 31 December 2021. To ensure the uniformity of National QR Code Standard, the central bank has developed a logo termed as ‘Bangla QR’.

This logo represents the interoperable QR code-based retail payments, and should be displayed in each merchant point to facilitate ‘Bangla QR’ payments. The logo of ‘Bangla QR’ must be developed according to the format, provided by the central bank in the guidelines. The acquirer will also comply with the template, as per the guidelines.

The ‘Bangla QR’ template should be clearly visible and readable to the customers, and apart from paper or sticker, ‘Bangla QR’ may be displayed in virtual form on any device screen.

According to the guidelines, all successful ‘Bangla QR’ transactions must be authorised by the issuer, and transaction completion information will be notified to customers and merchants concerned instantly. Issuers and acquirers will notify customers of the transaction status in real-time via SMS/ email.