A physically challenged college student, Kusum Khatun, is very happy as she need not to walk miles for withdrawing her disability allowance, thanks to the state-run mobile financial service (MFS) Nagad.
"It was very tough for me to travel around 10 kilometers and stand in a queue with a deformed leg to withdraw the disability allowance from Krishi Bank in Rajshahi Sadar," she said.
But the MFS arm of the Bangladesh Post Office has eased Kusum's suffering enabling her to withdraw the money through Nagad from any nearby MFS agent.
Kusum, a resident of Paba Upazila in Rajshahi, said Nagad has made the rural people's life easier, facilitating them with the mobile banking using basic mobile phone sets.
Like Kusum, about 5 crore people across the country are using Nagad as their mobile wallet while on average, Taka 700 crore is transacted through the platform every day.
The state-run carrier, which sped up the overall financial inclusion in Bangladesh, has emerged as the fastest-growing MFS in the world in just about three years of its inception in January 2019, thanks to the adoption of state-of-the-art technologies.
It is now playing a key role to digitalise the country's financial sector riding on advanced technology and pioneering innovations.
The electronic Know Your Customer (e-KYC) process introduced by Nagad, as the first of its kind in Bangladesh, for opening accounts using Smartphone, replacing a time-consuming paper-based system, has emerged as the role model for the country's financial industry.
The e-KYC is a process of opening accounts by capturing photos of both sides of the national identity (NID) card using a smartphone without visiting any office or filling up ordinary papers.
It is now being followed by other MFS operators, banks and financial companies in the country since it has brought down the cost as well as time of doing business significantly and ensured digitalization.
"Though many people criticized the e-KYC process in the beginning, now all the banks and other MFS operators are following the Nagad's initiative," said Muhammad Zahidul Islam, head of Nagad's Public relations.
Considering that most of the country's people don't have any smartphone that can access to the e-KYC facilities, he said, Nagad also developed a new facility in partnership with mobile phone carriers so that a basic phone user can also open an account and enjoy the facilities.
Under this innovation, people can open a Nagad account with their mobile phones in just a few seconds by dialing *167# from their mobile phones by setting up a four-digit password, the official said.
PM's ICT Affairs Adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy's Porichoy App is playing a vital role in this process, which has been regarded as the best modern technology in the financial sector, to verify the customers' identity, he added.
Since it came to the notice of various international organizations and was recognised as a state-of-the-art innovation, Nagad won the World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA) Global ICT Excellence Award 2020 in the last year as the first Bangladeshi MFS for its role in promoting financial inclusion.
Apart from leading in building a digital financial industry, Nagad is also playing a pivotal role in materializing Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's 'Digital Bangladesh' vision facilitating the rural people, particularly the unbanked groups, by bringing them under the mobile banking facility.
Taking the advantages of Nagad, during the Covid-19 pandemic, the government launched the digital process of disbursing social safety net allowances, financial grants and other assistance of the Prime Minister.
Zahidul said, "In 2020-21 fiscal year, the government disbursed different allowances, stipends and grants to 3 crore people for 8.5 crore times through Nagad with utmost transparency".
Nagad, which is now looking forward to facilitating all the country's citizens with all sorts of financial transactions soon, has cut the cash-out charge to Taka 9.99 per Taka 1,000, lowest among country's all MFS operators, and made sending money and paying utility bills free, encouraging the people to use the platform.