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Level-playing field for all can help MFS sector flourish

FE REPORT | November 25, 2021 00:00:00

Ensuring a level-playing field for all the market players can help flourish the fast growing mobile financial services (MFS) sector in the country, said speakers at a discussion on Wednesday.

They also recommended that the authorities concerned take safeguard measures, including strengthening monitoring, so that this sector could not face any disaster as what had happened in the case of some e-commerce platforms like Evaly.

They came up with the suggestions at the discussion, titled 'Importance of Compliance in the Mobile Financial Services (MFS) Industry', organised by the Bangladesh Unnayan Parishad (BUP) at the CIRDAP auditorium in the capital.

Chairman of Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation Dr Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad chaired the event, while BUP Executive Director Dr Nilufar Banu delivered the welcome speech.

The speakers said that the MFS was the biggest driving force in the initiative of achieving financial inclusion in the country.

Having 100 million account holders, the MFS sector witnesses a daily transaction of around Tk 20 billion, they said.

Considering the large volume of transactions, the sector needs to ensure upholding the faith of the customers in the MFS platform and the overall digital payment system, and ensure uniformity in the compliance practice in the industry.

MFS providers should operate within the regulatory framework provided by Bangladesh Bank (BB), they said, adding that strict monitoring should be exercised by both the regulator as well as the providers.

Supreme Court lawyer Barrister Aneek R Haque in his keynote paper said BB issued 'MFS Regulations 2018' to ensure strict regulatory compliance in the MFS industry.

As per the regulations, he said, only one MFS account can be opened against one NID.

Following proper Know Your Customer (KYC) procedure and validating customer identity through NID verification allow this regulatory requirement (one MFS account against one NID) to be fulfilled, Barrister Haque said.

Self-registration through e-KYC using OCR technology and biometric facial matching is getting popular among the MFS providers, he told the discussion.

BB Deputy Governor Ahmed Jamal said that the central bank (mainly) along with the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit and the Bangladesh Trade and Tariff Commission had been regulating the players involved in the MFS industry.

During the discussion, bKash Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Kamal Quadir said his organisation allowed only one MFS account against one NID.

Planning Minister M A Mannan, who was present at the event as the chief guest, said Bangladesh had become one of the biggest mobile money transaction markets in the globe as the number of account holders was now 100 million; of them, 47 per cent were women.

He said that MFS had been playing an important role in improving the lifestyle of many people, especially those in the rural areas.

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