Bangladesh Bank moves to expand banks’ ATM services in rural areas

Staff Correspondent | Published: 23:22, Jun 01,2020

 
 

The Bangladesh Bank has allowed non-bank entities to operate alongside banks automated teller machines across the country focusing on spreading banking services in the rural areas at an affordable cost.

To this end, the central bank’s payment systems department on Sunday issued Guidelines for White Label ATM and Merchant Acquiring Services (WLAMA).

Automated teller machines (ATMs) set up, owned and operated by non-bank entities are called ‘White Label ATMs’.

Now all ATMs are installed, owned and managed by the banks.

The banks found it costly to install ATMs for few customers in rural areas, depriving a large segment of the rural people of banking services.

To bring the unbanked people under financial services, the BB issued the guidelines, setting urban and rural ratio at 1:3.

For instance, the WLAMA licensee will have to install three ATMs in the rural areas if it installs an ATM booth in any urban area.

Such ATMs would be allowed to give services like cash withdrawal and deposit, fund transfer, mini statement, balance inquiry, bill payment, POS or QR retail purchase, POS or QR bill payment.

Along with the banks’ clients, customers of the mobile financial service providers and non-bank financial institutions would also be able to use the ATMs against their accounts and credit cards if the respective entity opts for the services of the WLAMA licensee.

The BB guidelines, however, have not specified how much the customers would have to pay for availing the services.

However, an official of the central bank said that an user might have to pay the same fee as a client of a bank paid for using a bank’s card in another bank’s ATM.

He said that the BB might determine the charge based on the customers’ response.

Apart from operating ATMs, the guidelines also allowed a WLAMA licensee to operate as Merchant Acquiring Services.

Under the services, the WLAMA would offer in-store merchant acquiring services such as point of sales or QR code-based payments along with providing e-commerce merchant acquiring facilities.

For providing both ATM and merchant acquiring services, a WLAMA entity will have to ensure Tk 45 crore paid-up capital along with Tk 10 crore bank guarantee.

To provide ATM service only, there would be no requirement of bank guarantee.

The paid-up capital and bank guarantee requirement would be Tk 10 crore each for securing merchant acquiring service providing license.

The total number of ATM booths in the country reached 10,924 at the end of December last year.

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