Two more banks, Prime Bank and NRB Global Bank, have received agent banking licences from the central bank in the April-June quarter amid moves by the banks to mobilise funds at lower cost and to expand their wings at minimal expenses.
With the two new agent banks, the total number of banks with agent banking licences has risen to 28 at the end of June this year from 26 at the end of March this year.
Agent banking is not only tech-friendly but also facilitates the unbanked people in remote areas to avail formal banking services by bringing them under the banking network.
The call for introducing new technology-based banking services has grown louder after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic during which demand for digital means of transactions rose to the top.
When contacted, NRB Global Bank managing director Syed Habib Hasnat told New Age, ‘The bank has recently received the agent banking licence as it allows to reach the customers’ doorsteps at lower expenses.’
For instance, the opening of a branch requires a bank to bear a set of permanent costs, including office space rental, decoration and deployment of employees, he said, adding, on the other hand, the agent bore each and every cost and made some gains by doing so.
Besides, agent banking plays a vital role in reaching the unbanked people, he said, adding that the inclusion of those unbaked people could play a vital role in increasing the circulation of money.
With the increased circulation of money, it would be possible to expedite business and economic activities, he said.
Out of the 28 agent banking licencees, 23 banks are running agent banking services.
Deposit mobilisation by the banks through their agent banking operations has increased to Tk 10,220.21 crore as of June this year, up by 19.74 per cent from Tk 8,535.04 crore three months ago, according to the Bangladesh Bank’s quarterly report on agent banking.
In terms of deposit collection, Islami Bank Bangladesh holds 25.58 per cent of the market share, Dutch-Bangla Bank 18.64 per cent, Bank Asia 17.33 per cent, Al-Arafah Islami Bank 16.40 per cent and Agrani Bank 9.36 per cent.
On the other hand, loan disbursement through the wing was comparatively low with disbursement reaching Tk 720.54 crore at the end of June this year, up by 6.92 per cent from Tk 673.92 crore at the end of the previous quarter.
In terms of lending, Bank Asia has 38.98 per cent of the market share, BRAC Bank 37.44 per cent, The City Bank 19.24 per cent, Dutch-Bangla Bank 1.72 per cent and Mutual Trust Bank 1.19 per cent.
Besides, disbursement of remittance through the agent banking wing has increased by 36.42 per cent to Tk 26,650.59 crore during the April-June quarter from Tk 19,535.33 crore in the previous quarter.
Even in the midst of the pandemic, opening of agent banking accounts in rural areas rose by 14.23 per cent to 63,77,457 in June this year from 55,82,788 in April.
The number of agents of the banks went up by 6.1 per cent to 8,764 at the end of June this year from 8,260 three months ago.
‘The rising trend of agent banking services amid the coronavirus pandemic signifies the huge opportunity to bring the mass rural unbanked people under the umbrella of formal banking services,’ the BB report said.
‘Agent banking is playing a pivotal role in providing necessary financial services, especially for rural women, small business entrepreneurs and remitters,’ it added.
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