The new MFS plans to focus on remittance services and even provide microcredit to users, says CEO Dewan Nazmul Hasan
The rapidly growing mobile financial services (MFS) industry in Bangladesh is getting a new player, as Trust Bank Limited and Axiata Digital Services look to tap into the market by creating a more remittance-focused product.
Dewan Nazmul Hasan, the acting CEO of the aptly named TAP (Trust Axiata Pay), believes the nation might be totally dependent on MFS within the next decade.
In a market that is already dominated by established MFS providers such as bKash and Nagad, Hasan believes TAP can become another key player in the market.
At present, bKash, the country’s first MFS provider, has the lion’s share of the market at 48%, followed by Nagad and Dutch Bangla Bank’s Rocket with 28% and 21% market shares, respectively.
“Even though there are others operating in the industry, 61% of the total market is still untapped, and we want to take advantage of that,” the CEO said.
As Axiata and Trust Bank are operating together, remittances sent in by army personnel or even civilians living abroad can now be transferred smoothly through TAP.
“We are trying to accommodate transactions of salaries and other benefits, even for those who have retired from the armed forces,” he added.
Only 0.5% of the total remittance in the country comes through MFS, which can be improved, according to Dewan Nazmul Hassan.
“We have partnered up with some companies in Malaysia which are associated with Axiata for the time being. We are going to Malaysia and the Middle East first, and then plan to facilitate remittance from Europe and America.”
Axiata is a Malaysian company that is already familiar with the Bangladeshi market through other ventures.
According to the TAP chief executive, the company sees tremendous potential in the MFS sector, as it has grown significantly over the last couple of years.
To put things in perspective, money transferred through MFS in Bangladesh rose 40.5% year-on-year to Tk62,993 crore in June this year, according to Bangladesh Bank. Transactions had hit Tk44,830 crore in the same month last year.
“Other mobile services like credit recharging using MFS have also increased in the last two years,” Hasan said.
And Axiata is not diving into this without experience — it has similar operations in many other countries including, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Malaysia.
Talking about the technology that TAP brings with it, Hasan mentioned the application is going to be a replica of Boost — Malaysia’s lifestyle e-wallet app — but customized to Bangladeshi clients’ needs.
As the application has been proven to be extremely user-friendly and successful there, TAP wants to follow the same pathway here.
“MFS is not only about cash-in and cash-out, it is a lifestyle,” he said, referring to targeting the youth, as they tend to prefer digital payments while purchasing goods and services, especially online.
According to him, TAP is going to bring additional features that others have not yet brought into their system yet. Services like providing microcredit up to Tk10,000 are in the process and pilot projects will be launched soon.
The number of people getting associated with mobile financial services is on the rise, especially during the pandemic.
As people have been under lockdowns in their homes, transactions through mobile financial services have hit all-time highs.
“I believe Bangladesh is going towards total digitalization in terms of transactions over the next 10 years, as the market growth suggests,” Hasan said.