Bangladesh has more than 70 million mobile users and this art of the edge technology can be used for various value added services other than calling or texting. It actually opens up the opportunity and future of banking services in Bangladesh. There are more people using a mobile phone than a bank account here and setting up bank branches is not only expensive but time consuming. You can say the extent of buying mobile phones here in Bangladesh is equivalent to the rise of production of electronics in India.
According to some studies it could easily take more than a decade for bank branches to reach the entire 160 million populations, in other words it’s totally impossible.
Here are some statistics to back up above logic; more than 70% people are living in rural areas and 15% of total population is able to access traditional financial services, on the other hand 50% of our countrymen are using mobile phones.
Therefore to address some major issues regarding financial services in Bangladesh like accessibility, better security, fast and affordability, the way out is clearly mobile banking – using handsets to enable some of the banking functions like payments, money transfer and so on. Bangladesh needs expansion of mobile financial services in every corner of rural and urban area to get the full benefit. Currently, we are receiving only the basic services like: money transfer, payment or cash out services. But MFS has gone a long way already and in future we can expect services like NFC (near field communication) where mobile phones can be used as virtual credit card, loans can be given through mobile phones, or cheque transactions can be materialized as well.
Let’s talk about how MFS actually can bring a whole new world to an under privileged village woman or man who has no access to a bank branch. 1st of all sending money to another person is way easier and safer than any traditional method like- courier service or post office. It takes no time to transfer money from one place to another without compromising security: no fear of theft or lost; all a person has to do is keep his/her Menu/Account PIN secret from everyone. It is also very stress-free to cash out money from ATM or agent point with a minimum service charge, which is no doubt cheaper than any traditional process as well. Sending money from outside Bangladesh (foreign remittance) is also possible using this service. User has the flexibility not to visit any bank branch to get his/her money if s/he has an MFS account in his/her mobile phone. Opening account is very simple and convenient for any person. User needs to have a photo ID card (NID is preferable) and two passport size photographs to open a MFS account. It’s not that complicated to fill up the one page KYC (Know your customer) form as well. The fear of opening a bank account can be minimized very easily through this simple but effective process.
MFS can give enough reasons to urban people to follow this new motto “why not carry one less thing in pocket!!” as MFS can actually substitute our wallet. People can use mobile phones for shopping, paying university fees or recharging mobile balance. It gives the freedom of mobility, accessibility and can remove many unwanted events easily. This actually goes with the current urban fast and convenience way of life as well.
MFS market is at the early stage of expansion but it is pretty good compare to most of the countries. The two giants in Bangladesh are bKash and DBBL where bKash is now number 2 in terms of customer numbers in the whole world. A study from Bangladesh bank also portrayed satisfactory results. Customers are satisfied with the service quality as well as very comfortable of using the service. They now actually understood the value of opening an account and connected to financial service. People are able to construct their household budgets and savings in a more efficient manner now. Study also showed the expansion reached rural areas as well. So as a whole Mobile Financial Service Providers are doing a good job so far.
To ensure a proper economic eco-system, Bangladesh needs to ensure free access to financial services at every corner. Traditional methods are not the easy way out for this. MFS could be the only possible solution for this. So Government should extend its helping hands in every possible way to expand this industry for the betterment of people.