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MFS transactions surge in 2017

Mehdi Musharraf Bhuiyan | February 03, 2018 00:00:00

Transactions through mobile financial service platforms posted more than 34 per cent increase in 2017 with continuing the momentum of mobile-based money transactions in the country in recent years.

According to the latest figures published by the central bank on Thursday, transactions worth of Tk 3.14 trillion have been made through mobile financial services platform back in 2017, up from around Tk 2.34 trillion MFS transactions that were made during the preceding year of 2016.

The total number of MFS transactions has also increased from around 1.47 billion in 2016 to 1.87 billion in 2017, posting a growth of 27.21 per cent.

Similar growth can also be witnessed in the amount of average daily transactions and the number of average daily transactions when compared year to year.

For example, average amount of MFS transactions per day has increased from Tk 6.4 billion in 2016 to Tk 8.62 billion last year, posting a 34 per cent jump.

At the same time, average number of transactions per day has also jumped from 4.01 million in 2016 to 5.13 million in 2017, witnessing a 27.93 per cent increase.

When compared year to year, the growth pattern of the MFS transactions is also found to be quite consistent compared to the previous year.

For example, in 2016 the amount of annual MFS transactions posted a similar 37 per cent increase while the number of transactions soared by 18.7 per cent.

Notably, during last year, a number of regulatory measures were taken from the central bank to rein in the growing use of MFS as illegal channels for sending overseas remittance in the country.

Bangladesh Bank, in a circular issued in January last year, brought down the daily ceiling of mobile cash-in to Tk 15,000 from Tk 25,000 while the maximum cash-out limit was slashed to Tk 10,000 from Tk 25,000.

Besides, monthly maximum cash-in limit was slashed to Tk 100,000 from Tk 150,000 while the maximum monthly limit on cash-out was brought down to Tk 50,000 from Tk 150,000.

Some insiders were initially skeptical about the move, fearing that the restrictions would create inconvenience to the MFS subscribers and would greatly decrease the flow of MFS transactions in the country.

However, the latest central bank data shows that the BB move has hardly had any negative impact on the overall volume of MFS transactions in the country.

"The central bank move was actually helpful for not only in restricting the use of MFS as illegal channels for money transferring but also to regain the trust of customers," said Abul Kashem Md Shirin, Managing Director of Dutch-Bangla Bank Limited, whose mobile banking service Rocket is one of the major players in the MFS market.

"However, such restriction is a bit inconvenient for merchants who use MFS for their business transactions," said Shamsuddin Haider Dalim of bKash, the country's leading MFS provider.

Despite its exponential growth, it is notable that MFS transactions in the country continue to be dominated by cash in and cash out transactions.

For example, out of a total of Tk 285.71 billion that was transacted through MFS back in December last year, cash in comprised Tk 120.27 billion while cash out amounted to 108.94 billion.

When this trend was pointed out, insiders affirmed that there are scopes for further diversification of MFS transaction types.

"There are scopes for increased use of MFS for merchant payments and utility bill payments," Mr Shirin of DBBL said, adding, "India has already made advancement in this regard by restricting cash out and encouraging merchant payment for MFS platforms".

The country has ended the year with 58.8 million registered MFS clients, rising from 41 million just a year ago and witnessing a massive jump of 43.16 per cent.

At the same time, the number of active MFS accounts has also risen from 15.87 million to more than 21 million-although the number of MFS accounts has dwindled from time to time this year-including the last two months.

According to BB figures, there were a total of 786,459 MFS agents in the country at the end of last year, up from a total of 710,026 such agents just 12 months back.

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