Bangladesh Bank has rejected a plea of Bank Asia, a private commercial bank, to run its agent banking service through outlets of two mobile phone operators — Grameenphone and Robi.
A BB official said that the decision was made based on a policy of the central bank regarding the telecom operators.
Ensuring safety and security of banking information was another reason for the rejection, he said.
Apart from these, allowing GP and Robi to tie up with Bank Asia in running agent banking could create a state of uneven competition for the other agent banking operators in the country, he said.
Bank Asia submitted the proposal to the central bank after the mobile phone operators received clearance from the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission in this connection.
On the other hand, the mobile phone operators were expecting that using telecom operators for the agent banking operation would help explore the ample scope for brining banking services to the unbanked people’s doorstep especially in the rural areas by using the existing infrastructure of the mobile operators.
Facilities like cash deposit and withdrawal, remittance and small-scale loan disbursement, recovery of loans and cash payments under the government’s social safety net programme were proposed to be offered through the agent banking wings if GP and Robi were allowed to operate the service.
Earlier, the telecom operators had expressed their eagerness to run mobile financial service but the central bank issued the MFS guidelines, barring the telecom operators from becoming part of MFS.
A customer can send Tk 1,000 with Tk 2.5 as charge through agent banking whereas transferring same amount of money through mobile financial service costs up to Tk 18.
Due to the cost-effectiveness, deposits in agent banking accounts and number of the accounts have been growing rapidly.
The amount of deposits by agent banking accountholders increased by 162.54 per cent to Tk 5,284.46 crore at the end of June of FY19 from Tk 2,012.77 crore a year ago.
Besides, the number of accounts rose by 92.22 per cent, or 16.39 lakh, to 34.17 lakh in FY19 from 17.77 lakh in the previous fiscal year.
The BB has so far allowed 21 banks to run agent banking service under the agent banking guidelines in 2013.
Of them, 19 banks have already started running the service.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Banking