Interoperability  goes live Oct 27

HM Murtuza | Published: 23:00, Oct 22,2020


A file photo shows a man standing inside a shop that gives mobile financial service and mobile recharge service in Dhaka. — New Age photo

The Bangladesh Bank on Thursday announced that the much-awaited interoperability service for the mobile financial service would be launched on October 27 involving four MFS operators and five banks.

A BB circular issued in this regard said that the entities, which had successfully participated in the pilot testing, would be able to participate in live transactions from October 27.

The service would allow subscribers of an MFS operator to send money to the subscribers of another MFS operator while the service would also enable the subscribers of MFS to receive and send money from and to banks.

In case of MFS-to-MFS fund transfer, the receiving MFS operator of the fund will have to pay charge at the rate of 0.80 per cent or Tk 8 per thousand to the sender MFS operator.

In both ways — for sending to bank account or in receiving from banks — the MFS operators will have to pay charge at the rate of 0.45 per cent or Tk 4.5 per thousand to the banks.

However, the banks and MFS operators, which are participating in the interoperability service, have been barred from taking any additional charge from the customers for providing the interoperability service.

Initially customers of four MFS operators — Bkash, Mkash, Ukash and Islamic Wallet — would be able to get the interoperability service.

Under the facility, the customers of the four MFS operators would be able to execute transactions with five banks, including Pubali Bank, Al-Arafah Islami Bank, Islami Bank and UCB.

So far, 15 bank-backed entities are licenced by the central bank to operate MFS.

The banks and MFS operators, which are yet to complete the preparations for participating in the interoperability service, were asked to compete the entire procedural requirement and to join the service by March 31, 2021.

Two other MFS operators — Nagad and Rocket — are expected to join the service by January next year.

Asked about the other MFS operators, a senior official of the central bank told New Age that the banks or MFS operators, which were yet to complete the requirement, would have to complete the process and join the service.

The system of the central bank has the capacity to facilitate the interoperability service to all the MFS operators and the banks, and it’s now their duty to comply with the procedural requirements otherwise it would not be possible to include any entity, he said.

Nagad managing director Tanvir Ahmed Mishuk told New Age that Nagad along with Rocket was expected to join the central bank’s interoperability service by January next year.

Asked about the interoperability charge set by the BB, Tanvir said that the transfer charge for both —  MFS-to-MFS and bank-to-MFS or MFS-to-bank should be within Tk 5 per thousand or 0.5 per cent.

The rapid growth in mobile phone has laid out the foundation for the MFS and the outbreak of coronavirus gave a boost to the country’s MFS service. The growing use of mobile phone has been enabling the financial inclusion by using the device as well.

MFS transactions hit an all-time high of Tk 62,999.42 crore in July. The transactions, however, plunged to Tk 21,595.6 crore in August.

Now, the country has more than 4 crore active MFS subscribers while the number of registered MFS customers is almost 10 crore.

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