Digital payments can boost Bangladesh's annual GDP by 1.7%, an addition of $6.2 billion (Tk50,058 crore) annually to the economy, according to a new report by the United Nations-based Better Than Cash Alliance and its member, the Bangladesh government's flagship programme a2i.
Planning Minister MA Mannan in an online event officially launched two publications titled "National Digital Payments Roadmap, Bangladesh 2022-2025" and "Measuring progress to scale: Responsible digital payments in Bangladesh".
According to the report, 53% of the $6.2 billion will come from digitising just 30% of micro-merchant transactions in the retail sector; 45% from digitising credit disbursements in the agricultural sector; and the remaining from scaling digital wages in the informal ready-made garments (RMG) sector.
Responsible payments digitisation in these sectors, crucially prioritising women, will help accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
The planning minister said digitisation can play a crucial role in country's target to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 and by 2041 to transform into a fully developed state.
He said Bangladesh's economy has grown significantly in the last 13 years.
"We are moving forward towards being recognised as one of the top 25 economies in the world by 2035," he said.
"It is one of the main commitments of our government and we are working diligently to achieve this goal by building a cash-less society, leaving no one behind," he said.
a2i Policy Advisor Anir Chowdhury said that there are many areas where the country has already witnessed remarkable adoption of digital payments.
As digital payments ecosystem grows in scale and complexity, its dependence on infrastructure increases commensurately, he added.
"We are leaving no stone unturned to ensure that we build a reliable and inclusive digital infrastructure that will serve as the foundation on which digital payments and services can be built," he said.
Deputy Managing Director at the Better Than Cash Alliance Camilo Tellez said that Bangladesh has achieved remarkable progress towards the Digital Bangladesh vision.
He said that digital transactions have grown from 5% to 20% in five years – an impressive four-fold increase.
He mentioned that it has also withstood the impact of the pandemic by digitally delivering social safety payments, wages, and stimulus packages to citizens and industries.
"We look forward to continuing our work with the leaders of Bangladesh to advance digital payments nationwide, particularly for women, and sharing lessons from Bangladesh with our global Alliance members."
Since joining the Better Than Cash Alliance in 2015, reports suggest that Bangladesh has made significant progress in moving towards a digital economy.
Based on the reports, the government has released the National Digital Payments Roadmap 2022-2025.
The roadmap identifies 22 solutions to build a safe, inter-operable and inclusive digital payments ecosystem over the next three years in the ready-made garment (RMG), retail, agriculture, health and education sectors.