Out of every three registered mobile financial services (MFS) accounts in November last year, only one was active, according to a report of the Bangladesh Bank.
Published on Sunday, the report said although the number of active clients and transactions in mobile banking had increased in mid-2020 due to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, it started declining at the end of the year.
In October and November last year, the number of active clients decreased by 94 lakh. Earlier, in five months from July to November, the number of clients decreased by 1.11 crore.
A mobile banking account is considered inactive if there is no transaction for three months.
After general holidays were announced in March last year because of the pandemic, the number of active subscribers and transactions rose to the highest level in July.
But the situation began to change in August. The decline in the number of active clients continued till November. However, transactions began increasing in September.
Syed Masudul Bari, chief technology officer and deputy managing director at Al-Arafah Islami Bank, told The Business Standard the lockdown caused the use of mobile banking services to increase, and many people opened accounts even though they did not need to.
"Now that the situation is normal, people are going back to cash transactions. In addition, the accounts that were opened for special needs were mostly used from March to July," he added.
Tanvir A Mishuk, managing director of Nagad, said new account opening increased to receive government allowances, pay garment workers, and also because both Eid festivals were celebrated during the pandemic.
"Those accounts remained active. However, most of those are now inactive," he said.
Many clients actively use mobile banking during festivals or at the beginning and end of the year, said Shamsuddin Haider Dalim, chief public relations officer of bKash.
He described the decrease in the number of active clients at the end of the year as a normal trend.
"The clients who are transacting now are the real customers. The unusual growth during the abnormal period is declining," Dalim added.
In January last year, the number of active mobile banking clients was 3.33 crore. In November, it stood at 3.13 crore.
Speaking about the increase in total and daily transactions every month from September to November, Mishuk said it happened as the economy began turning around.
He also said high cash-out charge was responsible for the reduction in the number of active clients.
He said more clients would take mobile banking services if the cash-out charge could be brought down to single digit.
The statistics of the central bank also show that the cash-out growth rate was much lower than that of cash-in. Clients increased digital transactions and payments instead of cashing out due to high charge.
Shopping transactions in November last year increased by 7.6% and stood at Tk1,879 crore compared to the previous month. The picture was similar in other months.
Towards the end of the year, the increase in receiving remittances through mobile banking, payment of salaries and allowances to employees of various organisations, and person-to-person transactions continued.