The platform recorded its second-highest amount of transactions in September
Transactions through the mobile financial services platform soared 38.6 per cent year-on-year to Tk 49,121.1 crore in September, with the payment channel now emerging as one of the big winners of the pandemic.
September’s figure, which is up 18.6 per cent from a month earlier, is the second-highest since MFS was introduced nearly a decade ago.
“This is a sign of economic recovery -- the informal economy is getting momentum,” said Kamal Quadir, chief executive officer of bKash, the industry leader.
While the platform has always been popular among the unbanked population for sending and receiving money, it has turned out to be particularly handy in making payment at a point-of-sale terminal, salary disbursement and utility bill payment during the pandemic.
In September, merchant payment through the channel stood at Tk 1,292.5 crore -- the highest yet. It hovered below Tk 600 crore until June, when the economy was reopened.
The platform, which allows contactless payment by way of QR code, then particularly became convenient to make payment at POS terminals in the time of coronavirus, which lingers on surfaces for hours.
From July, merchant payment through MFS has been exceeding the Tk 1,000 crore-mark.
“This is a very good sign. It shows that people are getting habituated to digital money. People not cashing out -- they are saving up on the cash-out fee,” Quadir added.
Now, all kinds of payments, starting from goods and tickets through to insurance premiums, can be made through bKash, said Shamsuddin Haider Dalim, head of communication and PR at bKash, which is 20 per cent owned by Ant Group, which pioneered mobile payments.
“In our network, we are observing that people are more interested in cashless transactions than ever before and they are trying to use MFS for their daily transactions as well,” said Tanvir Ahmed Mishuk, managing director of Nagad, the country’s second-largest and the fastest-growing MFS provider.
Nagad has about 11,000 payment points across the country.
“The pandemic helped the MFS platform to gain traction,” said Abul Kashem Md Shirin, managing director of Dutch-Bangla Bank, which owns Rocket that has a 23 per cent market share.
Now, merchant payment and other cashless transactions are higher than deposits and withdrawals as people prefer to pay for utility bills, shopping and tickets through the channel owing to the pandemic, he added.
In September, person-to-person transactions through the channel increased 19.2 per cent from the previous month to Tk 14,857 crore.
Some Tk 14,723.3 crore was deposited in September and 13,895.8 crore was withdrawn.
The stimulus packages announced by the government for the payment of salary of garment workers also boosted MFS transactions, according to Dalim.
Salary disbursement through the platform, which hovered was less than Tk 1,250 crore until April, shot past the Tk 2,000 crore-mark from May. In September, it was Tk 1,954.9 crore.
In September, 18.5 lakh new accounts were opened to take the total to 9.5 crore.
Of them, 4.1 crore are active -- the second-highest after July, which was a record-setting month for MFS by all accounts. For instance, transactions through the channel hit an all-time high of Tk 62,999 crore that month.
“We hope this situation will continue in the coming days,” Mishuk added.