The Covid-19 crisis has held the newly licensed Bengal Commercial Bank back from being visible to the customers as all official and business activities have stalled for the last two months.
On February 23, the central bank allowed Bengal Bank to start its commercial activities. Earlier on February 9, the Bangladesh Bank gave its final approval to the bank, taking the number of the country's scheduled banks to 60.
Md Jasim Uddin, vice-chairman of Bengal Group of Industries, was elected chairman of Bengal Bank for three years.
Jasim Uddin, also the former vice-president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries, told The Business Standard, "We had a good start and hoped to launch operations within June. But as things turn out now, it seems, it will take more time."
Bengal Bank appointed Tarik Morshed its managing director.
Tarik Morshed is a reputed banker with 26 plus years of experience in a Shariah-based bank. Later, he also served as the chief executive officer of a financial institution.
Bengal Bank set up its headquarters at Khandokar Tower in Gulshan where the bank is also going to launch its first branch.
Tarik Morshed said, "We are ready to apply for the central bank's approval to launch our first branch. But we cannot do that before things return to normal."
"Our recruitment process has stopped due to the ongoing condition."
However, the bank appointed Shahid Hossain, former managing director of Southeast Bank and also Social Islami Bank, as its advisor.
Plus, Mahbubul Alam, president of the Chattogram Chamber of Commerce and Industries, and Golam Mohammad, managing director of Max Infrastructure Limited, was made vice-chairmen of the bank.
Bengal Group of Industries – a local plastic product manufacturer – initiated Bengal Bank.
Jasim Uddin said, "We managed sponsors almost a year ago and submitted the required initial capital of Tk420 crore to the central bank."
"The Covid-19 crisis has delayed our launch but we are trying to start a fully digital bank from the beginning."
"Also, we see opportunities in the government declared stimulus packages for farmers, cottages, micro, small and medium enterprises. We will focus on this sector first and will not target the big conglomerates now.
"We are relaxed now as we are yet to disburse any loan. We do not have any big customer base either. So we can start loan disbursement at 9 percent interest and use it for branding our bank," he said.
Covid-19 also halted the prelaunch activities of another newly licensed financial institution Strategic Finance and Investment.
The non-bank financial institution got the final approval of the central bank on March 12 this year.
Padma Bank Chairman Chowdhury Nafeez Sarafat's wife Anjuman Ara Shahid is the proposed founder chairperson of the financial institution.
Muhammad Ali Zaryab, now serving as a deputy managing director of Padma Bank, is the proposed managing director of the new company.
Zaryab recently said, "I've not yet decided to join Strategic Finance and Investment."