The Covid-19 crisis is placing unprecedented strain on markets, governments, businesses, and individuals. Further, this pandemic could be one of the most serious challenges faced by the financial services industry, according to a press release.
To address Covid-19's impacts, financial institutions must craft a strategic response by adopting the appropriate enablers and innovations underpinned by agile delivery models.
However, the pandemic could also bring great opportunities for digital financial services (DFS) in the post-novel-coronavirus world. Bangladesh, which has seen early successes in payments, needs to move fast with: facilitative regulations, risk management guidelines, digital infrastructure, effective data analytics, and capacity building, it adds.
These insights and suggestions came up at a Resurgent Dialogue on "Digital Innovations in Financial Services: Keys to Success in a Post-Covid World." The dialogue was jointly organised by the Resurgent Bangladesh initiative and Deloitte on Monday.
Resurgent Bangladesh is an economic recovery initiative in the context of the novel coronavirus put together by five institutions: MCCI, DCCI, CSE, BUILD, and Policy Exchange.
Senior Secretary of Financial Institutions Division of the Ministry of Finance Md Ashadul Islam, attended the meeting as the guest of honour.
The session was attended by a number of CEOs of banks and non-banking financial institutions, board members and senior officials of digital finance services plus policy experts and development partners.
Dr Masrur Reaz, chairman of Policy Exchange, in his welcoming remarks, stressed that the novel coronavirus has expedited a shift towards digital financial services that was already helping advance financial inclusion.
He also highlighted that Bangladesh has made great strides in financial development, and embracing digital finance at a faster pace will help address recent challenges in the banking sector and fast-pace financial inclusion, reads the statement.
Sharif Islam, executive advisor of Deloitte Bangladesh spoke about the commitment of the world's largest professional services firm to partner with the government and banking institutions to strengthen the financial services industry and revitalise the country's economy for a sustained high rate of growth in the years ahead.
Sanjoy Dutta, financial services industry leader of Deloitte India, presented the keynote. Syed Nasim Manzur, managing director of Apex Group provided the summary remarks.
Barrister Nihad Kabir, president of MCCI and Director of bKash, moderated the panel and open session.
Aftabul Islam, a member of the board of directors of Bangladesh Bank, the central bank, said that novel coronavirus-induced changes are real, and a move towards digitising financial services will have to take place without delay.
Ali Reza Iftekhar, chairman of the Association of Bankers Bangladesh and managing director of Eastern Bank Ltd, said digital means will help reduce costs and enhance the capacity to reach out to customers. He also called for acceptance of digitised submissions of returns by banks to central banks.
bKash Chairman Shameran Abed said bKash is already supporting transactions of 750,000 Brac microfinance clients and he expects the number to double in the next year.
Syed Mohammad Kamal, country manager of Mastercard International stressed the importance of incentives for encouraging uptake in digital financial services.
Sonia Bashir Kabir, co-founder of DMoney said that the new generation, young population plus cottage and micro industries can only be better served when the use of technology in financial services is enhanced.
Chittagong Stock Exchange Chairman Asif Ibrahim stressed the need to focus on the digitisation of capital markets while pursuing DFS.
Mutual Trust Bank CEO Syed Mahbubur Rahman, NRB Bank CEO Mehmood Husain, AB Bank President Tarique Afzal, Director of USAID's Economic Growth Office John Smith-Sreen, BUILD Chairman Abul Kasem Khan, DCCI President Shams Mahmud, and Additional Secretary, Financial Institutions Division of the Ministry of Finance Arijit Chowdhury participated in the open discussion.