- CityMaxx American Express is a dual currency debit card against current and savings accounts
- The annual limit is $12,000
- There is no issue of interest rate like that for credit card
- The annual charge is Tk500
- There are 17 million debit cards in Bangladesh as of April
- The number of issued credit cards is only 1.5 million – not more than 1 million are active
Suppose you want to buy a book from Amazon or get subscriptions from streaming sites like Netflix, but you cannot because you do not have a credit card, which is expensive, cumbersome, and requires tax identification number (TIN).
Your worry is now gone as City Bank, a first-generation lender, has come up with a debit card that will enable you to purchase online from anywhere in the world.
Customers can presently use their dual-currency debit cards for international online purchase, but they must have some kind of a foreign currency account.
Now, the Bangladesh Bank has relaxed that condition and customers can use debit cards issued against their current or savings accounts for online international shopping.
"The card is designed to cater to frequent international transactors, online shoppers and regular travellers, especially those who are reluctant to use credit cards, and enjoy hassle-free foreign travel," said ecstatic Mashrur Arefin, managing director and chief executive officer of City Bank.
He said this is going to be the first-ever account card in Bangladesh that offers 1 percent cashback on international transactions.
The bank launched the debit card named "CityMaxx American Express" on Monday, just six weeks since the central bank allowed commercial banks to issue international debit cards on June 16.
A cardholder can spend a maximum of $12,000 against their annual travel entitlements. A customer can enjoy hassle-free international ATM withdrawal by using this card.
According to bankers, this card may get popularity as it is easy to get at the time of account opening. No credit assessment and TIN are required like that for a credit card.
Bankers said credit cards have little future in Bangladesh as consumers are not comfortable to use it. Standard Chartered Bangladesh first launched credit cards here in the early 1990s. Still, the number of issued cards is only around 15 lakh against a population of 17 crore. The number of active credit cards will not be more than 10 lakh. City Bank is the leader in credit cards.
On the other hand, the number of debit cards reached 1.7 crore as of April this year, according to data from the Bangladesh Bank.
"Credit cards have so many value propositions that it is challenging to be viable here," said Arifur Rahman, head of cards at City Bank.
A bank has to spend a lot, especially for marketing and promotional activities, for getting a credit card customer. A cardholder may be interested in having lunch in a five-star hotel seeing that "buy one, get one free". Actually, there was no free lunch as the bank of the cardholder has to pay the hotel the money on behalf of the customer.
Customers also feel shaky to have a credit card because of high interest rates, ranging between 24 percent and 30 percent, and annual fees and other charges. A person without having a TIN is not allowed to have a credit card.
"I took a credit card only to pay for my Netflix account. I had to get it after a lot of hassle," said a postgraduate student at a private university. He is excited to know that a debit card will allow him to make transactions internationally.
"It will be a great advantage if I can use my debit card for international online purchase," said a Bangladeshi who works in a foreign bank in Dhaka. He used to shop online either by his credit card or a dual currency debit card. But for a dual currency debit card, a person has to have a foreign currency account.
Some banks, such as Standard Chartered, Dutch Bangla Bank and Eastern Bank have dual currency debit cards for international use for around a decade. But for that a customer needs to have a foreign currency account such as a Resident Foreign Currency Deposit account, Foreign Currency account, or an Exporter Retention Quota account.