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POST TIME: 9 September, 2019 10:28:05 AM
BB says no to agent banking permission
GP, ROBI, BANK ASIA PARTNERSHIP
TAREQUE MORETAZA, Dhaka

BB says no to agent banking permission

Bank Asia has not been granted permission from Bangladesh Bank to roll out the agent-banking service in partnership with the top two mobile phone operators Grameenphone and Robi.

Bangladesh Bank has rejected permission to begin the service considering the security aspect of the customers, the bank sources said.

The central bank thinks it will be wrong to provide customer’s information to third parties, the sources said.

In February, both operators, which together control more than 75 per cent of the market share of mobile phone subscribers, received permission from the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) to this effect.

After the BTRC’s approval, Bank Asia wrote to the Bangladesh Bank, seeking its permission to begin the service and inform the central bank.

When asked, Bank Asia declined to make any formal comments in this regard.

“However, there is still scope for reconsideration of the decision,” said a Bangladesh Bank official.

Agent banking is expanding fast across the country as over Tk 5,200 crore has been deposited till June 2019 in over 34 lakh accounts. According to the quarterly data of April-June, 2019 of Bangladesh Bank (BB), deposit collection through the agent banking was Tk 5,284.46 crore, which was 42 per cent higher from Tk 3,734.50 crore in the period from January to March 2019.

At the end of April to June quarter, the number of agent banking accounts across the country also increased by 18 per cent or around 5.10 lakh compared to the previous quarter. The number of accounts with agents increased to 34,16,672 from 29,06,655 in April to June period of 2019.

At the end of April-June quarter, the number of agents increased to 6,013 from 4,886 of the previous quarter and the number of bank agent outlets also increased to 8,671 from 7,838 in the same quarter. Official data show that banks distributed Tk 9,349.05 crore remittances through the agent banking channel, which was Tk 7,182.65 crore in the January to March quarter of 2019.

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.

Earlier, Bank Asia 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.

BK