Wage digitisation could improve the likelihood of women's participation in making decisions related to household expenses and enable workers to save up to 15 percent, said experts at a meeting on Wednesday.
The panellists at the Bangladesh Digital Wages Summit further said the administration and finance teams in garments factories could save as much as 53 percent of the work time if the payments of wages were digitised.
They said digital payments benefit both the employers and workers in terms of security, efficiency, empowerment and independence.
The Access to Information (a2i) programme of the ICT Division, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Better Than Cash Alliance, a UN-housed partnership of governments, companies and international organisations jointly held the Summit at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Dhaka.
Panellists at the programme said a worker spent 18 minutes per month on an average to receive his or her wages in cash. As a result, a factory with 2,500 employees lost 705 work hours per month.
At the programme, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporter Association (BGMEA) President Rubana Huq also expressed her plan to digitise the garments sector's wages payment system.
"Now 1.5 million garments workers are getting digital wage services and another 2.5 million workers will come under the service within 2021," she said.
State Minister for Information and Communication Technology Zunaid Ahmed Palak agreed with the BGMEA president.
"Our aim is to transform Bangladesh into a less cash-based society by 2021, when 90 percent of the total banking transaction will be online," said Palak.
The summit started with an opening panel discussion titled "Scaling Digital Wages for Employees and Manufacturers."
Industries Minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun was present at the programme moderated by Anir Chowdhury, policy advisor to a2i.
Nurul Majid said, "We are committed to supporting the readymade garments sector to leverage new technologies that will improve the living standards of garment workers. These efforts will, in turn, improve our country's economic growth."
Among others, Deputy Governor of Bangladesh Bank Ahmed Jamal, Managing Director of the Better Than Cash Alliance Dr Ruth Goodwin-Groen, Resident Representative of the UNDP Sudipto Mukerjee, ILO Country Director and UN Representative Tuomo Poutiainen and Bangladesh Country Manager for Marks and Spencer Shwapna Bhowmick were present as panellists.
Speakers at the summit said wage payments constitute 27 percent of the total value of the business payments in Bangladesh, representing $40.4 billion transaction per year. However, 90 percent of the salaries were still paid in cash.
Three more panel discussions were organised at the summit.