Tackling COVID Fallout

Experts stress shift towards online financial services

Staff Correspondent | Published: 23:14, Aug 10,2020


Financial institutions must craft a strategic response by adopting the appropriate enablers and innovations underpinned by agile delivery models to address the COVID-19 impact, experts said on Monday.

At a webinar on ‘Digital Innovations in Financial Services: Key to Success in Post-COVID World’, they said that the pandemic could be one of the most serious challenges faced by the financial services industry.

Resurgent Bangladesh, an economic recovery imitative put together by the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Chittagong Stock Exchange, Business Initiative Leading Development and Policy Exchange, and Deloitte jointly organised the webinar.

Experts also said that the pandemic could also bring great opportunities for digital financial services in the post-COVID world.

Bangladesh, which has seen early successes in payments, need to move fast with facilitative regulations, risk management guidelines, digital infrastructure, effective data analytics and capacity building, they added.

Financial Institutions Division senior secretary Md Ashadul Islam attended as the chief guest while MCCI president Nihad Kabir, also a director of BKash, moderated the programme.

Policy Exchange chairman Masrur Reaz said that COVID had expedited a shift towards digital financial services that was already helping to advance financial inclusion.

He said that Bangladesh had made great strides in financial development and embracing digital finance at a faster pace will to help address the recent challenges in the banking sector and fast-track financial inclusion.

Bangladesh Bank board director Aftabul Islam said that COVID‑induced changes were real and the move towards digitising financial services would have to take place without any delays in the process.

Association of Bankers Bangladesh chairman Ali Reza Iftekhar, also the managing director of Eastern Bank, said that digital means would help to reduce cost and enhance capacity to reach out to customers.

BKash chairman Shameran Abed said that BKash was already supporting transactions of 7.5 lakh BRAC micro finance clients and expected the number to double in the next one year.

Chittagong Stock Exchange chairman Asif Ibrahim stressed the need to put more focus on digitisation of capital markets while pursuing DFS.

Mutual Trust Bank chief executive officer Syed Mahbubur Rahman, NRB Bank CEO Mehmood Husain, AB Bank president Tarique Afzal, Apex Group managing director Syed Nasim Manzur, BUILD chairman Abul Kasem Khan, DCCI president Shams Mahmud, Mastercard International country manager Syed Mohammad Kamal, DMoney co-founder Sonia Bashir Kabir, Deloitte Bangladesh executive adviser Sharif Islam and Deloitte India financial services industry leader Sanjoy Dutta also spoke at the programme.

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