Internet banking services gain ground | The Daily Star

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Internet banking transactions have increased in recent months as people have increasingly embraced digital while choosing not to visit branches.

Transactions amounted to Tk 8,093 crore in December, up 33.47% year-on-year, according to data from the Bangladesh Bank.

Customers began to rely heavily on internet banking transactions when the government declared a lockdown in March last year to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Banks are now promoting different types of digital financial services, including online banking, which have attracted customers, said Emranul Huq, managing director of Dhaka Bank.

A good number of banks have already introduced app-based financial services, allowing customers to settle financial transactions hassle-free, he said.

“It also gave a boost to online banking,” said Huq, adding that this, in turn, would reduce the use of cash.

Some of the facilities include transferring funds from one account to another, paying tuition and utility bills, and adjusting loans against credit cards.

There were 23.44 lakh of such transactions in December, or 41.88% more year over year.

Md Shafquat Hossain, head of SMEs and retail banking at Mutual Trust Bank, said online banking gained momentum shortly after the government imposed the lockdown as people chose to mainly stay at home to keep the virus at bay.

Although the government started easing restrictions from the last week of May, people continued to show interest in settling transactions through online banking, he said.

“Customers appreciate the service because they don’t have to go to branches to settle small transactions,” he said.

Transactions through online banking will increase dramatically in the coming days as the central bank recently took several initiatives to popularize digital banking, Hossain said.

“The central bank has been developing regulations to move the digitization agenda forward in recent months,” said Enamul Huque, head of corporate, commercial and institutional banking services at Standard Chartered Bangladesh.

Huque is convinced that the changes during the pandemic would accelerate digitalization in the financial sector.

The Bangladesh Bank increased the limit on interbank remittances through online banking services in September in a bid to boost information technology-based financial services.

Customers are allowed to transfer a maximum of Tk 5 lakh per day against a previous cap of Tk 2 lakh.

People are using the online banking platform more than ever to maintain social distance and protect themselves from the rogue virus, a senior central bank official said.

The central bank also doubled the cap for a single transaction to Tk 1 lakh from Tk 50,000.

Customers are allowed to settle up to 10 transactions per day, up from five previously.

Internet banking will reach their next level when banks start opening large-scale micro-merchant accounts, a central bank official said.

These merchant accounts allow small businesses – vegetable vendors and owners of small shops or tea stands – to accept invoices from customer accounts and credit cards. This can be activated through the use of Quick Response (QR) codes.

“It will help people embrace digital means, avoiding manual payment methods,” the official said.

The central bank rolled out an interoperable QR code in January as part of its efforts to boost cashless transactions across the country, especially in rural areas.

The uniform digital payment method named “Bangla QR” will help customers pay their bills for goods and services using the mobile apps of banks and mobile financial and payment service providers.


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