Mobile wallet use rises despite stricter curbs

The transaction through mobile financial services increased 10.23 percent to Tk 72,578 crore in the three months to March although Bangladesh Bank lowered the ceiling of mobile banking transaction in January this year.

The central bank lowered the ceiling for mobile banking transactions along with a host of other restrictions with the view to bringing discipline into the sector and checking the rise of digital hundi.

A maximum of Tk 15,000 can be deposited into a mobile wallet each day and Tk 10,000 taken out — down from the previous daily ceiling of Tk 25,000 for both the activities.

The BB also directed the mobile financial service providers not to open more than one account with a single national identity card.

During the quarter, the daily average transaction stood at Tk 807 crore, up from Tk 773 crore registered in the preceding three months.

The number of active accounts soared 55 percent from December last year to 2.45 crore in March.

The BB’s move to lower the ceiling prompted agents to open more wallets to adjust their over-the-counter transaction volume, said Abul Kashem Md Shirin, managing director of Dutch-Bangla Bank, the country’s second largest MFS provider.

To get by the new restrictions, customers started maintaining wallets with a host of MFS providers but under their near and dear ones’ names.

The BB too acknowledged the new phenomenon.

“The move to lower the transaction limit may have increased the number of mobile banking accounts,” said Subhankar Saha, executive director of the BB.

Many accounts that were inactive for a considerable amount of time sprung back to action once the new limits came into effect, said Lila Rashid, general manager of the BB’s payment system department.

Meanwhile, the BB formed a committee to find out the reasons behind the falling remittance.

In the first 10 months of the fiscal year, $10.28 billion was received as remittance, down 16.08 percent year-on-year.

The committee identified the growing popularity of mobile banking as the prime reason for the sliding official remittance figures.

“Mobile banking is a hassle-free service, so it is fast becoming the remitters’ preferred mode of sending money home,” said a member of the committee.

Subsequently, the number of mobile banking accounts is fast mounting, he said.

To counter the phenomenon, the committee will recommend a policy that would link the mobile wallet with a formal bank account to bring remittance through the official channel.

The committee will submit its final report to the BB governor soon, he added.

Source: The Daily Star