As the agent banking has already gained the popularity as an easy banking system especially in rural areas, country's banks are showing more interest in agent banking.Agent banking offers all kinds of services including opening new accounts, withdrawal of funds, transfer of money, withdrawal of remittance, launch of various term deposits, payment of utility services.
Abul Bashar, General Manager of the Financial Inclusion Department of Bangladesh Bank told The Asian Age the central bank has taken a new initiative of launching agent banking to facilitate facilities to rural people. He said banks are getting huge response from customers. Agent banking is helping provide banking services in remote areas across the country.
According to Bangladesh Bank (BB), till December last year, a total of 1.2 million subscribers have opened accounts with agent banking outlets of different state-owned and private banks. The deposited money amounts Tk 13.99 billion.
The number agent banking subscribers was 9.5 lakh in last September and the deposited amount was Tk 9.28 billion. The number of accounts has increased 2.5 lakh in three months and the deposited money has risen to 4.77 billion. In this system, agents cannot issue check books or bank cards and cannot make any transaction related to foreign trade. Apart from this, no check can be enchsed from agents. Agents earn from the commission on total transactions According to the central bank, there are 18 private and state-owned banks has taken approval to start agent banking service.
There are 14 private banks including Dutch-Bangla Bank, Bank Asia, Al-Arafah Islami Bank, Social Islami Bank, Madhumati Bank, Mutual Trust Bank, NRB Commercial Bank, Standard Bank, State-owned Agrani Bank, First Security Islami Bank, Midland Bank, City Bank, Islami Bank Bangladesh limited and Premier Bank has already started the new initiative in the across the country.
The AB Bank, United Commercial Bank, Trust Bank and South Bangla Agriculture and Commerce Bank have a plan to start agent banking service as soon as possible.At the end of December in last year, the number of agents has stood at 2,577 and the number of outlets has stood at 4,157. During this time through the agent banking loans amounting Tk 1.08 billion was disbursed. At the same time, the amount of remittance through the agent banking is Tk 17.82 billion in the rural areas.
Leading economist Prof Abu Ahmed said the program has started to bring the people of the rural area under the banking service. Now, the rural people are getting financial knowledge through in the program.He said agent banking is not exactly like branch banking, but customers are getting various services through this. At the same time, agent banking is safe as the general bank. For this reason, customers have gladly accepted this system.
-Shah Alam Nur, AA
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