Agent banking in the country’s banking sector continues to gain popularity among the rural people as the clients are now allowed to keep deposit and withdraw the cash through the outlets operated by the agents without entering in the branches of banks.
The amount of deposit kept by the clients in the agent banking system increased to Tk 481.38 crore as of March 31, 2017 from Tk 380.68 crore as of December 31, 2016, according to the latest Bangladesh Bank data.
The rural people are also getting support from the agent banking system to receive the inward remittances sent by their relatives from abroad.
Inward remittance sent through the agent banking increased to Tk 572.47 crore in January-March of 2017 from Tk 309.56 crore in October-December of 2016.
The number of agents and the outstanding deposit balance in the system significantly increased in the first quarter (January-March) of this year.
The number of outlets operated by the agents increased to 3,023 as of March 31, 2017 from 2,601 as of December 31, 2016. The number of accounts in the agent banking system also increased by 31 per cent to 7,12,499 as of March, 2017 from 5,44,536 as of December, 2017.
Agent banking offers limited banking and financial services to the underserved population by engaging representatives under a valid agency agreement. It is the owner of an outlet who conducts banking transactions on behalf of a bank.
Agents provide services such as cash deposits, withdrawals, remittance disbursement, small value loan disbursement and recovery of loans, and cash payments under the government’s social safety net programmes.
Fourteen banks have so far received permission from Bangladesh Bank to operate agent banking services.
Of them, 11 banks have already stated business through using the central bank’s permission.
The banks that are providing agent banking services are: Dutch-Bangla, Bank Asia, Al-Arafah Islami, Social Islami, Modhumoti, Mutual Trust, NRB Commercial, Standard, Agrani, Midland, and First Security Islami banks.
The BB issued the agent banking guidelines in 2013 but the licensees started full-fledged operation only last year.
Among the banks, Dutch-Bangla Bank and Bank Asia led the agent banking market as of March this year. Of the total accounts, 67.08 per cent belonged to Dutch-Bangla Bank and 23 per cent to Bank Asia.
Bank Asia has the highest number of outlets and agents: 1,140 and 1,182 respectively as of March 31, 2017.
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