Interbank electronic money transfer in the country increased by 76.55 per cent or Tk 14,489 crore in April this year, the first month of the countrywide shutdown imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, as more people opted to carry out transactions virtually compared to paperbased transactions.
As per the Bangladesh Bank data, electronic money transfer through its network known as the Bangladesh Electronic Fund Transfer Network surged to Tk 32,815.20 crore in April against Tk 18,926.14 crore in the previous month.
The transaction volume in April was the highest through BEFTN after the Tk 21,338.27-crore transaction in May, 2019.
Transactions through BEFTN include electronic fund transfers and automated cheque processing.
Of the transactions made in April, electronic fund transfers accounted for 86.59 per cent.
In April, EFT increased to Tk 28,417.1 crore from Tk 15,749.3 crore a month ago when the coronavirus outbreak in the country was in the initial stages.
Incorporated in February 2011, BEFTN, a paperless electronic interbank funds transfer system, facilitates credit transfers such as payroll, foreign and domestic remittances, social security payments, company dividends, bill payments, corporate payments, government tax payments, social security payments and person-to-person payments.
It also executes debit transactions like utility bill payments, insurance premium payments, club or association payments and EMI payments, among others.
Although the electronic fund transfer facility had been there, its usage saw a rise during the pandemic as bank customers refrained from going outside and conducted their activities from home, said bankers.
People who were used to physically going to the bank branches to pay different bills explored the scope of paying for these services online during the pandemic, they said.
Prompted by the growing use of electronic fund transfers, the banks, which were reluctant to develop the EFT service, have now started to develop their platforms so that the customers can avail the service, the bankers said.
The use of online transactions may keep rising even after the pandemic as people are getting used to digital transactions gradually, they said.
Besides electronic money transfer, e-commerce transactions also became very popular among people for the same reason during the coronavirus crisis.
E-commerce transactions through the banking channel rose by 13.57 per cent or Tk 30.4 crore in April, the first month of the government announced shutdown to contain coronavirus, as a significant number of people preferred to purchase essential goods from home.
E-commerce transactions through the banking channel rose to Tk 254.4 crore in April this year compared to Tk 224 crore in the previous month.
On the other hand, automated teller machine and point of sales-based transactions dropped sharply in April.
Bank customer transactions through ATMs dropped by 44.16 per cent to Tk 8,187.2 crore in April from Tk 14,662.3 crore in the previous month.
POS-based transactions dropped by 68.35 per cent or Tk 983 crore, to Tk 455 crore in April when shopping malls and restaurants were closed.
In March, POS-based transactions amounted to Tk 1,438 crore.
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