Dhaka, July 11 (UNB) - Queen Maxima concluded her three-day visit on Thursday conveying that Bangladesh appears well-positioned for a boost in technology-enabled financial inclusion with a growing economy and increasingly digitally-connected population.
The Dutch Queen and UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA) visited Bangladesh to support inclusive finance in the country.
Throughout her discussions, Queen Maxima highlighted the need to embrace innovation to increase financial inclusion.
She noted the importance to develop an interoperable payments platform to enable easier, cheaper and real-time transactions between clients from different financial services providers.
The UNSGSA, who is scheduled to leave Dhaka at 4:25am on Friday, held meetings with President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
She also met other government officials, including Fazle Kabir, Governor at Bangladesh Bank, Mustafa Jabbar, Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, Dr Md Abdul Razzak, Chair of the Standing Committee on Finance, Abdur Rouf Talukder, Secretary at the Ministry of Finance, and Md Ashadul Islam, Secretary at the Financial Institutions Division of the Ministry of Finance.
The Special Advocate spoke to private sector leaders and development partners, as well as entrepreneurs, and financial services providers.
The UNSGSA visited the people who have benefitted from access to financial services due to an ambitious government program called Access to Information (a2i) that aims to make it easier for Bangladeshis to receive benefits, pay their bills, and buy and sell goods online.
Queen Maxima also spoke to clients of ShopUp, a Bangladesh-based fintech company that facilitates low-interest loans and provides a one-stop e-commerce and business management platform to entrepreneurs with small manufacturing and trading businesses.
Despite significant progress, half of adults in Bangladesh remain excluded from the formal financial system, either from a traditional bank or agent banking, according to UNDP.
This means, it said, many people in the country do not have access to the financial services needed to get ahead and protect themselves in hard times.
The UNSGSA said it could be helpful if the national ID system could further facilitate financial inclusion.
The Special Advocate also raised the importance of fostering digital and financial inclusion for women, including through the digitisation of wage payments in the garment industry.
She said engaging more female agents could be vital to reach female customers and this will require adjustments so that it is easier for women to become agents.
The Dutch Queen encouraged Bangladesh Bank (BB) to set up a regulatory innovation office to facilitate dialogue and regulatory clarity with providers of technology-enabled financial services.
The Special Advocate previously visited Bangladesh in 2015 in her capacity with the UN.