Agent banking in the country is witnessing significant growth in all dimensions.
The year-on-year growth, from March 2019 to March 2020, in terms of the number of agents, outlets, and accounts was 69.75 percent, 51.51 percent and 123.54 percent, respectively, shows data released by the Bangladesh Bank on Monday.
Moreover, the amount of deposits, loans disbursed, and inward remittances grew by 128.55 percent, 220.33 percent and 171.98 percent, respectively.
The quarter-to-quarter growth, from December 2019 to March 2020, in terms of the number of agents, outlets, and accounts was 5.14 percent, 4.90 percent, and 23.33 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, the amount of deposits, loans disbursed, and inward remittances experienced growth of 13.54 percent, 51.10 percent and 25.76 percent, respectively.
The number of female accounts made through agent banking has been rising continuously for a while. In the March quarter of this year, the growth was 28.65 percent.
In the first quarter of this year, two banks got licences to operate agent banking – increasing the number of such banks to 26. Of them, 22 are currently providing agent banking services.
Officials at the Bangladesh Bank said agent banking is becoming more popular as it is now available at the clients' doorstep.
At the end of the first quarter of 2020, the number of accounts opened through agent banking was 64.97 lakh. Around 86 percent of the account holders are from rural areas.
On the other hand, gender-wise segmentation shows female accounts constitute 45 percent of the total accounts whereas male accounts comprise 54 percent. The remaining one percent represents institutional accounts.
The collection of deposits through agent banking stood at Tk8,535 crore till March this year.
The disbursement of loans through agent banking stood at Tk674 crore at the end of the first quarter of 2020. The amount increased by 51.10 percent compared to the December quarter of 2019.
At the end of March, Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited received the highest deposit of 25.30 percent, followed by Dutch Bangla Bank (20.53 percent) and Al-Arafah Islami Bank (18.79 percent).
Bank Asia is now the fourth-highest deposit receiver through agent banking, although it was the first bank to launch the service in the country in 2014.
Under the agent banking umbrella, people are getting a few essential banking services on a limited scale.
The central bank approved agent banking operations mainly to make such operations available to people in rural areas. However, now these operations are also available in urban areas.
Currently, Dutch Bangla Bank has the highest number of agent outlets, around 34 percent, while Bank Asia has the highest number of accounts, 38 percent.