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‘We have garnered trust and confidence very fast’

FE REPORT | January 17, 2024 00:00:00

Mohammed Monirul Moula, Managing Director and CEO of Islami Bank Bangladesh PLC

Although the agent banking activities of Islami Bank started a little late, it has been expanded very fast with the trust and acceptance of the customers.

Mohammed Monirul Moula, Managing Director and CEO of Islami Bank Bangladesh PLC, said this during an interview with the Financial Express. The system has created an opportunity for marginalised individuals to get banking services

Agent banking of Islami Bank started its operations on July 15, 2017. Currently, Islami Bank agent banking is providing modern banking services in 472 upazilas across the country through 2773 outlets. So far, 4,339,000 accounts have been opened in agent outlets where the amount of deposits is Tk 143.05 billion till December 2023.

"Agent banking serves as one of the means of financial inclusion of marginalised people into the realm of banking services," he added. "These encompass the opening general accounts, personal retail accounts, and micro-merchant accounts, as well as services like cash deposits, withdrawals, and micro-investments."

The managing director of the bank further added that transactions through the agent banking are conducted in a manner similar to regular banks, offering customers a diverse array of services comparable to those available at branches. These outlets provide comprehensive utility bill payment services. The daily transaction volume of Islami Bank agents reaches approximately Tk 10.0 billion.

"The beneficiaries of expatriates find convenience in withdrawing foreign remittances sent from abroad through the extensive network of Islami Bank's agent outlets," said Mohammed Monirul Moula. "The agent banking of Islami Bank is ranked the top in the country in terms of remittance collection and deposits." In the last year, Islami Bank's agent banking facilitated the receipt of remittances equivalent to Tk 153.52 billion which is more than 50 per cent of the market share.

The managing director also said that their agent banking is providing customer service using modern technology in compliance with all the rules and regulations set by the central banks. These include ensuring service through Bangla QR code, 100 per cent digital connectivity for customers and API-based online transaction initiatives, especially in collaboration with Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) companies and other enterprises. "Moreover, to keep customers' deposits cent per cent safe and secure, two-factor authentication by using OTP and biometric fingerprint tagged with all the transactions," he continued.

Mohammed Monirul Moula noted that the bank's Rural Development Scheme (RDS) is a popular, welfare-driven and successful scheme.

"This scheme enables agent outlets to carry out small investment activities nationwide. Currently, 135 agents have initiated the distribution of investments under this project through their outlets," he explained adding that a substantial total investment of Tk 6.94 billion has already been disbursed through Islami Bank's agent banking network.

In another note, the managing director of the country's leading commercial private bank said that currently, around one and a half lakh customers are receiving services through the agents of Islami Bank every day.

The range of services includes cash withdrawals on Point of Sale (POS), bolstering electronic Know Your Customer (e-KYC) activities, facilitating cash-in and cash-out transactions through Cellfin, enabling the payment of social security allowances, and empowering customers to manage various transactions seamlessly using QR codes.

"As agent banking activities fall within the purview of banking services, strict adherence to the rules and regulations outlined by Bangladesh Bank is integral to each operation," . said Mohammed Monirul Moula.

"The notable feature of Islami Bank's agent banking activities is that each of its agent centres is operated under the direct supervision and closed monitoring of the nearest branch to ensure satisfactory and risk-free customer service," he continued.

"In addition, software used in agent outlets is the own product of Islami Bank," he further added. "So its technical risk is also very low."

Mohammed Monirul Moula was of the view that the agent banking service provided by Islami Bank has garnered trust and confidence among the public, emerging as a highly effective mechanism for catalysing rural economic development.

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