A move is underway to bring the beneficiaries of social security and welfare programmes under a biometric identity-enabled payment system to help the country shift from cash to electronic payments.
Digital Financial Services (DFS) lab+ under Access to Information (A2i) of the Prime Minister's Office has taken the move to launch NID biometric identity-enabled payment service initially for the government's social security beneficiaries.
The DFS lab+ will launch a pilot project in cooperation with Bangladesh Bank (BB) for the disbursement of the payments like widow and oppressed women, old age and freedom fighter allowances.
"After successful completion of the pilot project of the biometric identity-enabled payment service, the system will be introduced for all banking transactions," Program Coordinator of DFS Lab+ Tohurul Hasan Tutul told the FE.
He said beneficiaries can get access to the payment system being authorized and authenticated by means of National ID and biometric identity at their nearest cash points, bank agents, ATM, bank branches, telecom agents, post offices and digital centres.
This interoperable payment system will also enable citizens, especially un-banked/under-banked people to receive payments from the government to persons (G2P) or persons to government (P2G) for essential services like registration, land records, taxes, and fees.
He said key characteristics of the proposed payment architecture link the citizens' National ID (NID) numbers with his/her accounts and provide ultimate mobility to receive, withdraw and payments.
Bangladesh Bank Executive Director Subhankar Saha said the central bank is aware of the move. "A2i office has yet to make any formal proposal to the central bank.
After getting proposal, we will think about it," he said.
The central bank will launch an "interoperability" system by June next to facilitate transactions between core banking solutions and mobile financial services.
The mechanism under which cash can be transacted from banks to mobile financial service providers would also be operational in a limited number of banks at the end of this year or beginning of next year.
This will help distribute cash of the government-run social safety net programmes across the country.
Mr Saha said the central bank is already in the move. The software might help BB's initiative.
DFS Lab+ Programme Coordinator Tutul said beneficiaries of social security allowance do not get their benefits properly due to lack of easy access to banking system.
"The move will help the government in achieving 'Digital Bangladesh Vision 2021' for enabling an effective shift from cash to electronic payments," he added.
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