Transactions through mobile financial services (MFS) have increased by nearly 40% in a year due to the growing trust and adoption of this digital money transfer method by people.
According to data from the central bank, a record high of Tk1.32 lakh crore was transacted using services such as bKash and Rocket in June. This marks the fourth consecutive month with transactions exceeding Tk1 lakh crore.
Even the transactions in June experienced an increase of approximately Tk24,000 crore compared to the previous month.
In the same month last year, the transactions amounted to Tk94,294 crore.
Shamsuddin Haider Dalim, head of Corporate Communications at bKash, said, "Eid-ul-Adha fell in June. Usually, transactions see a significant surge during this festival. People use MFS platforms like bKash for their everyday transactions, including shopping, sending money to family members, handling salary, bonuses, and remittances. These factors have contributed to the rise in transaction volumes."
"Besides, during the Eid festivities, we provide various offers to our customers. We also have new offers post-Eid. Basically, our goal is to entice customers and establish transaction habits," he added.
As per industry insiders, following the introduction of MFS, customers initially displayed some reluctance regarding the nature of the service. However, with time, customers have come to realise that MFS is reliable. This growing trust is the primary reason behind the rapid expansion.
The central bank data showed that record-breaking transactions were observed in cash-in, cash-out, remittances, and salary disbursements in June. Notably, salary disbursement through MFS has surpassed the Tk5,000 crore milestone for the second time.
In that particular month, mobile talktime worth Tk1,081 crore was purchased through MFS.
Dalim said that a majority of customers now opt for digital services to avoid the inconvenience of visiting stores for phone recharges. A large portion of them use MFS for this purpose.
According to the central bank, payments made through MFS at supermarkets and businesses reached Tk6,595 crore for the first time in June, compared to Tk3,127 crore in the same month of 2022. This signifies a notable increase of 111% in merchant payments within a span of one year.
Bangladesh Bank Spokesperson Md Mezbaul Haque told TBS, "We want to make the country a cashless society. The MFS sector is playing a big role for this purpose."
"We have been able to bring many unbanked people into formal channels through MFS. A large section of the country's poor and middle classes are transacting using this service. Also, we are seeing positive growth in merchant payments using MFS. This has increased the dynamics of the country's economy," he added.
Last June, the government disbursed Tk4,067 crore in various forms of assistance, including stipends and old-age allowances, using MFS. Earlier, the government had not distributed this amount of money using MFS, even during the pandemic.
According to central bank data, the total number of MFS subscribers stood at 20.72 crore at the end of June. Subscribers have grown by 33 lakh in just one month. These customers made more than 57 crore transactions in the month of June, which is also an all-time high.
Industry stakeholders say that even though the total number of accounts in MFS has crossed 20 crore, the number of unique customers is not so high. The reason for this, they say, is because a customer uses multiple MFS accounts, which makes the number appear larger.
There are currently 13 banks offering MFS in the country under various names such as bKash, Rocket, UKash, MyCash, and SureCash.