The launch of interoperability facility among Mobile Financial Service (MFS) providers failed Tuesday due to last minute technical glitches, and the central bank could not specify the new launch date.
In a circular on October 22, the Bangladesh Bank said the service was set to begin on October 27.
The interoperability facility was initially set to be launched among bKash, mCash, Ucash, Islamic wallet and four banks, viz., Islami Bank, Pubali Bank, Al-Arafah Islami Bank, and United Commercial Bank.
Bangladesh Bank, Executive Director and Spokesperson, Sirajul Islam, told The Business Standard that the service launch entailed mammoth preparation and the central bank conducted the test run to introduce the service.
"We were unable to launch it on Tuesday due to a flaw in preparation," he commented. Sirajul, however, could not specify the new date.
According to central bank sources, the Bangladesh Bank sent letters to notify the MFS providers and banks about the failure of the launch. However, two MFS operators said that they were yet to receive the notification.
An MFS official preferring not to be named informed TBS that there were no gaps in preparation at their end, and the central bank could launch it whenever it wished. He said his office did not receive any letter from Bangladesh Bank regarding the postponement.
An official of another MFS said the same regarding preparation. Preferring anonymity, the official said, "The central bank announced the launch date with the successful conclusion of the test run that had been running for several months. The last-minute technical glitches deferred the service launch."
However, he was hopeful that the service would be reintroduced soon.
With the introduction of the interoperability facility, two customers of different MFS providers will be able to complete a transaction with one another, and with the bank, via mobile banking, at no additional charge.
Per the previous circular of the central bank, the MFS provider will bear the charge for the interoperability facility. For every Tk 100 transacted, recipient MFS will pay sender MFS Tk0.80 as charge.
For every Tk 100 transacted between a bank and MFS provider, the former will receive Tk 0.45 from the latter.
According to the circular, the MFS providers unable to launch the interoperability service by October 27 will have till March 31, 2021 to set up the system.
15 MFS operators are currently providing consumers with mobile phone-based money transaction services. As of end-August, the number of MFS users stood at Tk9.29 crore, while the number of agents was over Tk10 lakh.
In August, Tk41,403 crore was transacted through mobile banking, while the daily average transaction stood at Tk1,335 crore. Also, Tk104 crore remittances were collected via MFS in August.
Tk1,063 crore in salaries and allowances was paid out through these services, while Tk1,060 crore was disbursed for purchase of goods, and Tk908 crore was paid to settle utility bills.