Talking on Banking
Collaboration urgent to deliver quality digital financial services
Mobile banking is no more a topic of table talks. It's now a reality in millions of lives, a game changer for poor people. But for students, it's a unique tool that helps them to receive their stipend money at their door steps that they never thought before.
At least three mobile financial service (MFS)-SureCash, BKash and Rocket providers are engaged in delivering stipend money through mobile devices to students across the country. But some guardians of students have already expressed their concerns over the performance of delivery services by some operators who are yet to reach at the door steps of all students.
In recent time, there are widespread allegations that stipend disbursement through some MFS operators hit snags due to poor service quality and lack of sufficient network coverage. A ministry investigation has found some irregularities in stipend disbursements in some areas.
To keep the MFS growth pace, Dr. Shahadat Khan, the CEO of SureCash thinks a conducive business environment is urgent. The government's policy should be pro-poor, public and private sector partnership is vital and overall ethics business operation is crucial.
"Digital Payment Service (DFS) is now evolving. Collaboration urgent to deliver quality digital financial services", Dr Khan told The Daily Observer.
"Globally financial service is going through major transformation. More and more financial services are now becoming digital. And mobile phone technology has created opportunities to provide financial services to unbanked people, even in the rural areas where there are no bank branches", he said.
Dr Khan talked to The Daily Observer recently at his office to share his ideas and views on the fastest growing mobile banking industry of Bangladesh.
Dr Khan said that his company is working with more than 500 schools and colleges where it has automated the whole payment collection process. "Students are paying from their mobile phones from the comfort of home and hostel. Institutions can check their collection through web interface like Facebook".
SureCash is a leading Fintech company in Bangladesh. It has developed several digital financial services and products and serving more than 700 payment partners and 13 million customers in collaboration with 5 commercial banks including Rupali Bank - one of the largest state-owned banks in the country.
Government is disbursing about 14 billion taka each year as primary education stipend using Rupali Bank SureCash mobile banking to mothers' accounts of 13 million students. The Ministry of Education has decided to disburse stipend money of students to their parents through SureCash.
"We are sending primary stipend to 10 million mothers in rural Bangladesh using a single click. We have worked with 60,000 schools and we created these accounts. They can use these accounts to save money, send and receive money, mobile recharge etc", Dr Khan said.
The software and technologies used by SureCash payment platform is completely developed in Bangladesh with considering needs of the people and the culture of this country in mind. It is also very easy to use smartphone app. Students and other young customers are using to make all types of payments, Dr Khan claimed.
"One of my colleagues told us that he earned a bet for free dinner last month by just making a SureCash payment transaction in less than 3 seconds!"
More than 50 million people are using mobile payments in Bangladesh and mobile money is the biggest contributor for the progress in financial inclusion. It is primarily used for person-to-person money transfer and mobile phone recharges.
Dr khan said new generation of young people with smartphone want the financial services to be as simple as Facebook or WhatsApp. The banks will have to adopt these new technologies to provide servicescater newer demands.
To explore the opportunity meeting expectations of new generation customers, he continued, SureCash has developed a complete DFS platform. "We have done a very large project with Rupali Bank and Government- stipend disbursement to 10 million mothers. The program was inaugurated by Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on March 01, 2017".
What are the challenges and risks of Digital Financial Service (DFS) in Bangladesh? Dr. Shahadat Khan, a former faculty member of BUET thinks that low level of literacy and awareness among people and low penetration of smart phone and Internet are major challenges for DFS usage growth.
We have to worry about security and privacy of DFS users. Cyber security is a very important issue that we have to take very seriously. We need to design services assuming that cyber-attack will be there. We just need to prepare on how quickly we learn about attacks and how well we address them.
"When we are providing digital financial services, customer identification and compliance are two important issues. Fortunately, Bangladesh has developed a biometric based National ID (NID) system. So, service providers would be able to use biometric NID verification for new customer acquisition", he said.
"For the growth DFS, I think all the stakeholders of financial sector including the banks, service providers and regulators must work together so that we can deliver quality and cost-effective digital financial services to all people and drive economic growth to fulfill our dream of Digital Bangladesh", Dr Khan concluded .