The amount of deposits in the agent banking accounts rose by 162.54 per cent or Tk 3,272 crore year-on-year in the fiscal year of 2018-2019 amid the banks’ focus on expanding their agents and outlets in the rural areas.
According to Bangladesh Bank data, the amount of deposits by agent banking accountholders stood at Tk 5,284.46 crore at the end of June of FY19 from Tk 2,012.77 crore a year ago.
Central bank officials said that the deposits in the agent banking accounts were growing fast due to expansion of the service to the rural areas where people were deprived of banking services.
The service is also providing the unbanked population of the country quick and cost-effective banking service on their doorstep, they said.
They said besides ensuring convenience for the rural people, the agent banking had created ample scope for the banks for bringing to the formal banking channel the money which was previously out of the banking channel.
Pulling funds from the unbanked people was also helping the banks to get some respite from liquidity crisis in the existing cash crisis-hit market situation, they said.
The number of agents and outlets of the agent banking service increased to 14,684 at the end of June, 2019 from 10,256 a year ago.
Of the agents and outlets, 88 per cent are located in the rural areas while the rest 12 per cent in the urban areas.
At the end of June of FY19, the number of agents and outlets in the rural areas increased to 12,901 from 10,938 a year ago. The number in the urban areas rose to 1,783 from 735.
Along with increasing presence of agent banking services in the rural areas, the number of agent banking accounts also increased.
The number of such accounts with banks increased by 92.22 per cent, or 16.39 lakh, to 34.17 lakh in FY19 from 17.77 lakh in the previous fiscal year.
Currently 19 banks are offering the service. There are 59 scheduled banks operating in the country.
Of the 19 banks, Al-Arafah Islami Bank received highest Tk 1,399.88 crore — in deposits from accountholders.
Dutch-Bangla Bank and Bank Asia followed the chart by receiving Tk 1,151.69 crore and Tk 982.14 crore respectively.
Besides collecting deposits, the disbursement of loans by seven banks through their agent banking wings stood at Tk 237.35 crore in FY19, which was Tk 137.33 crore in FY18.
Of the banks, Bank Asia disbursed highest — Tk 211 crore — in loans through its agent banking wing while Al-Arafah Islami Bank and Dutch-Bangla followed the chart.
Bangladesh Bank has so far licensed 21 entities to run the service under the agent banking guidelines in 2013.
The entities, however, gradually started functioning from 2016.