Agent banking has been introduced in the areas of Bangladesh where traditional banking has not yet reached.
Bank Asia and Dutch-Bangla Bank – started recruiting agents at the grassroots level from Jan 19 to offer banking services through them.
Another two banks – South Bangla Agriculture and Commerce Bank, and NRB Commercial Bank – are going to launch the service.
Bangladesh BankThe central bank issued licences to the four banks for running agent banking, under which financial services would be offered through agents instead of branches.
Bangladesh Bank officials said Bank Asia had already appointed 49 agents in 32 Upazilas under 17 districts while Dutch-Bangla recruited six agents.
The central bank had issued a circular on Dec 9, 2013 approving agent banking in the rural areas where banks have no branches.
In another circular on Jan 6 this year, the central banks endorsed agent banking also in the urban areas not covered by traditional banking system.
Dutch-Bangla Bank Deputy Managing Director Abul Kashem Md Shirin told bdnews24.com, “A large portion of the population is still out of banking services. Agent banking has been introduced to bring them under banking service.”
According to Bangladesh Bank, customers will not require to pay any charge for the services they will receive through the agents.
Small amounts of money can be deposited or withdrawn besides receiving remittance through agent banking.
The agents can disburse small credit and collect loan instalments and utility bills.
The policy on agent banking stipulates that customers can receive government assistance from social safety programmes and deposit insurance premium through the agents.
They can also transfer money from one account to another and check account balance.
Anyone can collect information about opening of bank account from the agents and apply for loans, and credit or debit cards through them.
The agents, however, cannot make payment on any cheque, open any account, issue cheque books or bank cards, and transact foreign exchange.
An agent has to have the qualifications determined by the central bank and give a security deposit of Tk 100,000 for appointment.
They will get a certain commission on transactions.
The policy says NGOs, micro-credit agencies, cooperatives, post offices, companies, mobile-phone operators’ agents, union information service centres, local government institutions and any individual capable of offering financial services based on information technology can be appointed agents