On March 8, the whole country got involved in a war. The invisible enemy has taken away a few thousands lives so far and ravaged the economy. Still, we have been fighting the battle holding our heads up high.
As life always carries on, we are trying to revamp, even though we are on a battlefield.
Among the few things that play a very crucial role in taking us forward, technology and digital advancement are one of them. We certainly need to admit that because of the war, we have learned how to survive in a situation where you can't touch anything without the helping hand of technology.
Mobile money has seized the opportunity to mitigate our challenges. The epidemic has played a tremendous role in pushing citizens towards digitalization. People have learnt quickly how to access digital services – a development that helped the mobile money industry.
As insiders of the digital money industry, we can foresee how in the coming days, mobile money will keep the wheel of the economy moving. Media outlets reported that mobile money has never had a better month than July, and this is quite true. And I can say we will see more and more 'July' in the coming days.
In July, only Tk 62,999 crore was transacted through mobile platforms, which is more than 68 per cent higher than in the same month a year earlier, and everybody is excited about it.
Here I am using the word "only" very consciously. When the financial industry will see the number is racing towards hundreds of thousands crores of taka in a short time, everybody will use 'only' with the July numbers. Those days are approaching very fast.
However, as we head towards a brighter future, we shouldn't forget the bad days as well. We should recognize the players that made it possible and helped grow the economy. Nagad is at the frontline in the battle and helping the industry overcome hundreds of hurdles.
We have stood by our entrepreneurs from the very first day of the pandemic. Nagad has slashed its cash-out charge to a third, compared to market rates, bringing the cost of doing business down.
We ran a study and found that thousands of entrepreneurs are taking this benefit. These entrepreneurs neither have a bank account nor can they travel during the lockdown. I talked to some of the entrepreneurs who were overjoyed because of the service Nagad introduced.
Keeping in mind the motto "If people survive, the country will survive", Nagad got down to work when the country announced the first case of the coronavirus infection and that is why the impossible was made possible in a short time.
We added 2,000 e-commerce platforms and 5,000 merchants to our platform during the pandemic. And most importantly, the country's largest FMCGs (fast-moving consumer goods companies) such as Abul Khair Group, Hemas Consumer Brands (Pvt.) Ltd, Aftab Group, Planet Group, MGH Group and some other international brands also chose our platform to run their collection solutions.
When the agents of mobile phone operators Robi, Banglalink and Teletalk could not carry out their daily transactions with their head offices, we extended our helping hand and mitigated their challenges.
In April, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had decided to provide financial assistance to 50 lakh families who lost their jobs due to the lockdown. Each family was entitled to Tk 2,500.
She put faith in the mobile financial platforms for this massive disbursement work. We disbursed the major chunk as we have the latest technology in Nagad. I can assure readers that this is the first incident in the country's history where Nagad has disbursed the Prime Minister's assistance to the poor families, and no one can raise any complaints from a transparency point of view.
After getting a list from the government, we checked it on our network and verified the identity of the targeted groups with the Election Commission's national database. I think this is a massive step forward to ensure transparency in the disbursement system. We also distributed some other funds on behalf of the government.
As part of the process of digitalization of financial services, the Department of Social Services has recently taken an initiative to distribute their three kinds allowances through MFS channels. Here, too, Nagad is the top choice.
We have some other unique services which helped a lot of citizens during the pandemic. One of them is allowing them to pay Covid-19 testing fees through mobile financial service from their homes. Earlier, they had to stand in queues to pay the fees. We have also made arrangements for people who do not have Nagad wallets.
To reduce the health risks of the citizens, we have made an arrangement to collect college admission fees so that students and their parents can avoid visiting campuses or banks. People can now pay insurance premium through Nagad as well.
I strongly believe that services like these helped the economy keep rolling during the pandemic and we hope we can take the digitalization process of the financial industry to a new height and help the country's economy grow further.
The writer is the managing director of the postal department's digital financial service Nagad.