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EghtesadOnline: The Central Bank of Iran has recently rolled out various retail payment instruments, or developed guidelines for payment companies in recent months.

"The effort is in line with the policy to enable bank customers' access to a variety of payment services," Davoud Mohammad-Beigi, the head of CBI's Department of Payment Systems, was quoted as saying by CBI's public relations website. 

The most important payment services recently unveiled are contactless payment using smartphones and electronic wallets. 

"We need to give customers options to choose from various services," he said.

Mohammad-Beigi recalled that all payment services offered by the country's banking network are pivoted around the main objectives of "safety, diversity and convenience". 

The senior banking official mentioned the merits of the newly-unveiled contactless payment based on the EMV standards to realize the same objectives.  

EMV, which stands for Europay, Mastercard and Visa, embodies global standards for cards equipped with computer chips and its technology is designed to enable secure payment at compatible point of sale (POS) terminals.

"One main feature of this system is the capacity to scrap physical bank cards and replace them with smartphones," he said, adding that the project is cost efficient and help in reducing costs. 

Data released by the national payment settlement network, known locally as Shaparak, show that more than 111.19 million bank cards were active during the month ending Oct. 21, about 96% of which were debit cards.

The new technology can support contactless payment by using near-field communications, or NFC. Users only need to add their bank card information to applications on their smartphones, which would enable users to make transactions without any physical contact with POS terminals.

"Currently, more than 40% of POS machines operating in the country are compatible with NFC," Mohammad-Beigi said, citing data presented by Shaparak.  

"For POS terminals that cannot support the service, there are other alternatives available, such as QR codes."  

In the QR code payment process, the user opens the payment app once the total transaction amount is set in the POS system of the retailer. The QR code payment app displays a QR code that identifies with the user’s card details. The retailer then scans the QR code with a scanner to conclude the transaction.

The contactless payment has now been launched by one payment service provider (PSP) company and a bank. Three more banks are scheduled to join the initiative in the near future. 

Apart from EMV-based payment instrument, CBI in August 2020 allowed banks and non-bank credit institutions to offer electronic wallets to help facilitate micro transactions. 


Iran CBI central bank