With the increasing number of mobile financial service (MFS) accounts and the amount of unused money or deposits, the stature of e-money is constantly growing in Bangladesh.
The Bangladesh Bank (BB) sees this rapid growth of e-money as abnormal. The central bank is also concerned about the proper use of funds deposited with MFS service providers.
The experts fear that many people in the country will be affected if a large MFS service provider crashes. There is also a fear of losing discipline in the financial sector.
At the end of June 2021, the number of registered customers of MFS companies stood at 9.97 crore. But half the accounts of this huge customer base are not active. In June the number of active account holders was 4.09 crore.
At the end of June, the combined balance sheet of all MFS accounts held Tk 9,200 crore. About 85 percent of the amount is under the control of the largest player, bKash, which enjoys close to 50% market share. At present, the number of registered customers of bKash is more than 5 crore.
Coronavirus has pushed people's reliance on MFS providers such as bKash, Rocket and Nagad. As a result, the number of customers in mobile banking is increasing in the pandemic period.
At the same time, the amount of transactions is also increasing. Mobile banking is now an easy and popular service in the country due to the convenience of instant transactions.
However, the former governor of Bangladesh Bank Dr. Salehuddin Ahmed said that it is not right to have so much money tied up in MFS.
He told UNB that MFS companies are never like banks. These institutions are only being used as a means of transferring and paying customers. Depositing so much money at MFS is against financial norms.
Dr. Salehuddin said the central bank does not have direct control over MFS institutions.
“Unclaimed deposits in the bank have to be deposited in the central bank. It is unknown at this time what will be unclaimed deposits in the MFS. It will be the responsibility of Bangladesh Bank to look after the portfolio of MFS,” he added.