Banking experts on Monday called for a ‘true’ financial inclusion that would ensure inclusion of all the people of the country in the formal banking system.
They made the call at the concluding day of a two-day Annual Banking Conference-2017 held at the Bangladesh Institute of Bank Management in Dhaka.
The experts said financial inclusion is a key aspect when it comes to discussing inclusive growth.
Although some progress has been made, large gaps remain in financial inclusion across various dimensions in the country, they added.
Former Bangladesh Bank deputy governor Khondkar Ibrahim Khaled said financial inclusion does not mean poverty alleviation only but also making formal financial services accessible for all households and firms.
He said that SME loan was the most important element for poverty alleviation.
‘One hindrance to SME loan is the cost of operation but in the digital system we need to bring in strategies to cut down this operating cost,’ he added.
Talking about the irregularities in agent banking and money laundering through mobile financial services, he said last year mobile phone companies applied to the central bank for permission to go for their own banking.
The BB, however, does not have the authority to regulate telecommunication companies and so it rejected their proposals, he added.
The BB closed the accounts of around 3,000 subscribers of mobile financial services for allegations for money laundering, and BB needs to monitor their activities more firmly, he said.
BB deputy governor Shitangshu Kumar Sur Chowdhury said only opening banks and bank accounts would not act for financial inclusion.
‘Financial inclusion matters for the economic growth and until and unless we can bring all the population under the financial activities, economic growth cannot be sorted out,’ he added.
Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation chairman Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad said for financial inclusion there must be a continuous flow of money and income.
He said that with the innovation of technology and digital services, new risks were also coming as challenges in the field.
The government, the central bank and bankers need to keep an eye on the issue so that digitalization does not create digital divide, he added.
BIBM director general Toufic Ahmad Choudhury said financial inclusion is very important for the overall growth of the economy but everyone should be careful that the process of digitalization does not deflect and that no one is left behind.
The two-day annual banking conference saw 20 papers presented on various banking sector issues. More than 1,000 bankers, academicians and researchers of the country and abroad attended the conference.
The conference also included panel discussions.
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