POST TIME: 4 March, 2019 01:38:20 AM
Grameenphone, Robi to start agent-banking service soon
Tareque Moretaza, Dhaka

Grameenphone, Robi to start agent-banking service soon

The county’s two top mobile phone operators—Grameen-phone and Robi—will roll out the agent-banking service in partnership with banks soon after completing all the official procedures.

The Bangladesh Tele-communication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has recently allowed the country’s top two operators to run agent-banking in partnership with a bank, a move that is expected to give a huge boost to the new service and deepen financial inclusion.

A senior BTRC official said agent-banking is basically regulated by the Bangladesh Bank (BB), but the telecom operators have applied to the commission as they are regulated by it.

According to officials of both Grameenphone and Robi, they have started the procedure to roll out the service, but the official work is yet to be completed. Sayed Talat Kamal, director and head of Communications, Grameenphone told The Independent: “We have received permission and hope to launch our agent-banking service at the earliest”.

Shahed Alam, head of regulatory and corporate affairs of Robi Axiata Limited, told The Independent: “We welcome this decision by the government. We believe it will significantly help raise the level of digital financial inclusion in the country.

 We will now be able to extend banking services to people

even in the remotest parts of the country by using our nationwide telecom infrastructure.”

“Using digital technology, we will be able to provide banking services to the people who are not being served by the conventional banking system at the moment,” he said.

According to BB data, the number of accounts with agents increased to 2,456,982 at the end of 2018 from 1,214,367 in 2017. In 2018, the number of agents increased to 4,493 from 2,577 in 2017, while the number of bank agent outlets also increased to 6,933 from 4,157.

During the period, deposit collection through agent-banking was Tk 3,112.41 crore. In 2017, it was Tk 1,399.39 crore. In 2018, Bangladeshi expatriates sent Tk 5,557.42 crore through the agent-banking channel as against   Tk 1,982.02 crore in 2017.

Following an MoU with Bank Asia, an operator has applied to the BTRC for NOC in accordance with a guideline for agent- banking operations in Bangladesh.

Bank Asia has recently signed an MoU with mobile phone operators to provide banking services to marginalised people. The availability of mobile phones and internet facilities in rural areas has made agent-banking services easier to render. Banks  now focus on agent-banking for popularity among people, especially in remote areas.