Monday, June 25, 2018

BB's restriction on MFS depresses Eid shopping

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The Mobile financial service (MFS) has turned into a blessing for people in Eid festival as it enables them to pay and receive cash quickly and securely any time anywhere, but transaction limit imposed by the Bangladesh Bank (BB) remains as a big obstacle to reaping its full potentiality.

Bangladesh Bank has restricted daily ceiling of mobile cash-in to Tk 15,000, lower from the previous amount of Tk 25,000, while maximum cash-out limit has been slashed to Taka 10,000 from Taka 25,000.

People in this Eid festival are facing troubles to meet their requirements and losing interest in using this payment method as cash out limit and cash in limit are too small for person to person, different MFS operators said.

Experts see that the imposed limit counterproductive to financial inclusion and steady growth of MFS industry. Most people who have graduated from being  unbanked to MFS account holders, small traders, women entrepreneurs and lower scale service holders are now confronting with a major shift from their half a decade of MFS experience.

Eid shopping has reached its pick across the country as the Eid-ul-Fitr will be celebrated next Saturday or Sunday. A large number of poor people living in rural areas are waiting to receive "Eid money' from their relatives and leaders through mobile phones.

More than 52.6 million people are now using this unique payment service who transact over Taka 10 billion a day mostly through bKash, the leading MFS
operator in Bangladesh and the largest player across the globe.

MFS operators say the volume of MFS transactions has already jumped in recent days on the occasion of Eid festival. With bKash, people are buying goods from shops and commercial banks are sending remittance to the recipients living in villages and even in remote haor  and  wetland  areas  where banks are yet to be reached.

"We are experiencing higher transactions since last three weeks as people are spending money for Eid festival and sending cash to their near and dear ones on the occasion of Eid festival", said Major General Sheikh Md Monirul Islam (retd) , Chief External & Corporate Affairs Officer Corporate Affairs of bKash Limited.

With bKah apps, they collect money from agents available in markets and buy goods from shops, send money to their relatives living in remotes and donations to their followers. 

"We have disbursed $1.14 million remittance in last seven days collected by our partner banks. People living abroad remit their money through bKash as we ensure quick and safe delivery of remitted money to their relatives within a span of time", Major Gen Monirul Islam said.

Last month, Bangladeshi people living abroad remitted home nearly 1.5 billion US dollars, according to Bangladesh Bank. As MFS can remit money quickly, securely and transparently, leading banks are now making partnership with bKash for its country wide largest customer base and specialized service networks.

"Every day 2000 bKash accounts are being opened", General Islam said and a large number of bKash agents are everywhere in roads, market places in footpaths and in well decorated shopping malls to facilitate people make payments from their wallets.

But BB's limit on transaction hits Eid festival as people cannot transact money through MFS as per their Eid requirements.  And this has started depressing the Eid festival.

Abul Kashem, an agent of bKash also expressed similar view. "Many customers come to send money to their relatives several times and small traders send payments to product sellers or producers through P2P payments several times every day. But we cannot fulfill their needs for BB's new restriction".

Some social workers who donate money to villagers of their native areas are also upset with BB's restriction on MFS transactions. "BB"s restriction on MFS transactions has depressed our Eid festival", said A Bari, an industrialist living in the city who every year donates a lot of money as Zakat to poor people living in his native villages.

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