Adopting tech key to ensuring sustainable dev, inclusive financing: bankers 

Staff Correspondent | Published: 00:25, Dec 12,2019


Bangladesh Bank governor Fazle Kabir speaks at a plenary session of the AsiaPacific conference on financing inclusive and sustainable development arranged by the International Chamber of Commerce Bangladesh at Hotel InterContinental in Dhaka on Wednesday. Sri Lankan prime minister’s senior economic adviser Ajith Nivard Cabraal, former Bangladesh Bank deputy governor Muhammad A (Rumee) Ali, also the AB Bank chairman, Eastern Bank managing director and CEO Ali Reza Iftekhar and Bank Asia president and managing director Arfan Ali were present, among others, on the occasion.— New Age photo

Ensuring sustainable development and inclusive financing ecosystem would not be possible unless technologies are embraced by financial institutions, experts and bankers said at a discussion on Wednesday.

They also urged all the related stakeholders to be prepared to tackle cyber threats that would arise due to the growing use of internet-based financial services.

Experts and bankers made the observation and suggestion at a plenary session on ‘Inclusive and Sustainable Financing: Risks and Opportunities for the Banking Sector’ held at InterContinental Dhaka on the day with BB governor Fazle Kabir in the chair.

The seminar was organised as part of International Chamber of Commerce Bangladesh’s three-day conference titled ‘The Asia-Pacific Conference on Financing inclusive and Sustainable Development’.

The Asia-Pacific conference began on Tuesday.

Former Bangladesh Bank deputy governor Muhammad A (Rumee) Ali, also chairman of AB Bank, said, ‘To achieve inclusivity and sustainability of SDGs, we will have to harness the power of fintech.’

Rumee said, ‘The mobile financial service has made distribution for the financial institutions a very easy task,  as the country has 75 million registered users.’

However, the system has limitations too, he said, adding that the service had just opened the door but was yet to ensure inclusivity. He said that the system should become mobile banks instead of limiting its service to payment.

But, there would be many risks and one of the biggest risks would be the cyber security, Rumee said.

To mitigate the issue, the regulator, MFS providers, fintech companies and financial institutions should work together to have a framework which would be able to ensure inclusivity, sustainability and bring benefits to the community.

Bank Asia president and managing director Arfan Ali said that although the government had planned to bring the entire adult population under the banking system but 50 per cent of the people still did not have bank accounts.

The profit-centric approach of the financial institutions in expanding branches was the major reason for the scenario, he said.

Sustainable and inclusive development cannot be ensured unless they are brought under the banking system, Arfan said, adding, ‘The agent banking, however, has done some miracle in bringing those people under the financial ecosystem as over 9,300 agent outlets were established in just five years and 80 per cent of them are located in the rural areas.’

The agent banking would help open up the growth prospect along with achieving SDGs, Arfan said.

Urging for enhanced trade and investments among the greater South-South, Sri Lankan prime minister’s senior economic adviser Ajith Nivard Cabraal said that investments among the South Asian countries could also help ensure sustainable and inclusive development.

Fazle Kabir mentioned that the 11 goals and 30 targets under the SDGs were linked with the banking sector and the central bank since 2010 had been pushing banks to bring unbanked people like street children, school going children and farmers under the financial system.

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