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Digital Financial Inclusion Conference 2018: 'All financial institutions to come under digital service by 2021'

  • Published at 10:26 pm November 20th, 2018
web-Digital financial services (DFS)
Speakers at the ‘Bangladesh Digital Financial Inclusion Conference 2018’. The conference was organized by the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), at Dhaka's Bangabandhu International Conference Centre, on November 20, 2018 Rajib Dhar/Dhaka Tribune

Digital Financial Inclusion Conference 2018

Digital financial services are to be rapidly expanded with a view to developing the financial sector in line with Vision 2021 and Digital Bangladesh, speakers said on Tuesday.

Digital financial services (DFS) are already available in remote areas. The government is planning to provide more facilities to make it easier to avail such services by the people, they added.

United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) organized ‘Bangladesh Digital Financial Inclusion Conference 2018’ at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka on Tuesday.

Md. Abul Kalam Azad, principal coordinator (SDG Affairs) of Prime Minister’s Office, was the chief guest in opening session while KAM Morshed, director, advocacy for social change, BRAC moderated the session. 

Md. Rashadul Islam, additional secretary, ICT division and Arijit Chowdhury, additional secretary, financial institutions division,Ministry of Finance,were also present at the conference. 

Md. Abul Kalam Azad said elderly people, youth and children have been brought under financial inclusion by a social safety net program. Financial Inclusion has been created by opening a bank account with Tk10. Now people are getting services through a digital platform. 

“All financial institutions will be covered under the digital service by 2021”, he added.

“We are creating infrastructure to provide digital financing services. Infrastructure development has been completed,now technological manpower is being created. We are working very carefully,” saidAbul Kalam Azad.

"We have made policies and future plans through discussions with the financial institutions and concerned people about Digital Financial Services. Bangladesh is now fully engaged in digitalization,” Arijit Chowdhury said. 

Md Rashadul Islam said Digital Bangladesh is no longer a dream -it is now a reality. The government is working on e-governance, development of ICT assets and creating skilled human resources.

Md Arfan Ali, president and managing director of Bank Asia said once financial services were available only in Dhaka and Chittagong. Now, people of all regions are involved in financial activities. We have been able to take the services to remote areas. 

A keynote paper titled “Accelerating Digital Financial Inclusion by 2021: Emerging Frontiers for Bangladesh” was presented at the conference. 

The paper said 65% male and 35% female use agents banking services. Thereis a huge gender gap among mobile money (mobile banking) users in 2017. 15% maleswere mobile money users, whereas only 6% were female.

The number of adult population involved in mobile banking is increasing gradually. The number of adult population using mobile banking was 3% in 2013, while it rose to 5% in 2014 and9% in 2015, 13% in 2016 and the percentage stood at 18 in 2017,the paper said.

UNCDF hosted the conference in association with Access to Information Programme (a2i), BRAC and Business Finance for the Poor in Bangladesh (BFP-B). 

The initiative is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the European Union.

DFS innovation fair was arranged at the conference to explore the digital finance innovation landscape of the country. Digital financial service providers, innovators and development partners will showcase their products, services and innovations at the fair.

The conference brought together policy makers, regulators, local private sector stakeholders and international experts to reflect on Bangladesh’s journey during at last one decade in promoting digital financial inclusion. Discussions focused on the high volume financial sectors and outlining future action plans to accelerate digital financial inclusion in Bangladesh.