upay, the mobile financial service platform of United Commercial Bank, offers the cheapest cash withdrawal fee for its customers who use the mobile phone's USSD facility for transactions.
USSD allows users message service without a smartphone or data/internet connection to use mobile banking.
The cash-out charge for upay clients is 1.4% or Tk14 per Tk1,000 from agent points, which is inclusive of VAT and taxes.
Customers can withdraw money from any upay agent point by dialling *268#, then selecting the cash-out option from the menu to complete the transaction.
On the other hand, bKash and Rocket currently charge 1.85% or Tk18.5 per Tk1,000 cash-out through USSD, while Nagad's charge is Tk14.90.
The upay's cash withdrawal fee from UCB-owned ATMs is also the lowest in the market, which is 0.8% or Tk8 per Tk1,000 cash withdrawal.
For app users, the withdrawal fee remains the same as USSD. The upay app is available in the Google Play Store for download.
Launched its operation on March 17, upay has also made person-to-person transactions charge-free.
"According to our study, we found that around 70% of mobile money transactions take place via USSD while users are mostly poor and low-income people with limited access to smartphones and internet connections. So we have decided to empower our bottom of pyramid customers by offering the lowest cash-out charge in the market," said Sydul Haque Khandker, managing director of upay, adding that it will help ease the burden on customers and boost financial inclusion.
With a nationwide presence of agent and merchant network, "upay" products include mobile transaction, utility bill payment, merchant payment, inward remittance, airtime recharge, and disbursement of salary and various government social safety net allowances.
Besides, upay offers some unique services exclusively available for upay customers, including payment of traffic prosecution fines, Indian visa fee payment, and Titas gas (prepaid) bill payment. All types of bill payments are free of charge.
With the launch of the upay, UCB shelved its eight-year-old MFS brand "Ucash", which was launched in 2013. The customers of Ucash have been migrated to the upay platform.
Apart from offering the lowest cash-out charge, upay has also built its platform powered by state-of-the-art blockchain technology, to ensure a greater sense of security and confidence to customers.
Sydul Khandker noted that security was a big concern for MFS customers, service providers, and regulators as well. Customers are often worried about the security of their money they keep in their mobile account due to incidents of some fraudulent activities.
The upay platform comes up with high-security features powered by blockchain technology and device authentications, ensuring the robustness of the system against any kind of manipulation of the system by unscrupulous persons, he added.
The Bangladesh Bank allowed bank-led mobile financial service in 2011 to boost financial inclusion in the country through offering financial services via mobile phones for the poor and unbanked people.
Around 15 banks are currently offering mobile financial services to more than 10 crore customers across the country. According to the latest central bank data, the number of mobile banking customers crossed 10.23 crore in February. The per-day average transaction was Tk1,966 crore in February, which was around 6.5% more than in January.
The Bangladesh Bank in December awarded an MFS licence to the UCB Fintech Company Limited to offer mobile financial services. The UCB Fintech Limited launched the services in March under the brand name of upay.