Healthy competition should be ensured in the fast-growing mobile financial services (MFS) segment for the benefit of the users and the operators, and the regulator needs to ensure that no one acts like a monster, said Post and Telecommunications Minister Mustafa Jabbar Saturday.
Jabbar was addressing the webinar "Competition and Partnership in MFS Industry" organised by Telecom Reporters' Network Bangladesh (TRNB).
"Lack of interoperability is a huge bottleneck of this industry. If the banks can enjoy interoperability, then why cannot the MFS do it?" Jabbar asked.
Md Mofizul Islam, chair of Bangladesh Competition Commission said the market will not be sustainable if competition can be ensured.
"We have not got any complaint from the customers about substandard services that hurt market competition. However, it is our responsibility to sit with the Bangladesh Bank and the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) to settle the issues as there are huge cross-cutting points among us when it comes to MFS," Mofizul said.
He said they wrote to the Bangladesh Bank one year earlier to know about the situation of MFS but are yet to get any reply.
However, BTRC chair Shyam Sunder Sikder said, "There is a monopoly in the MFS. Nagad was the first service provider to disrupt it. But still, the market competition is uneven. So regulations on the significant market power holder is needed. The cash-out charge of Tk 20 is not acceptable."
Dutch Bangla Bank is the parent company of Rocket, the first MFS carrier of the country. The bank's Managing Director Abul Kashem Md Shirin said 70% of the pricing for the service is enjoyed by agents. "Agents get benefitted in many ways as it is not their primary business. Only the regular users get affected."
Tanvir A Mishuk, co-founder and managing director of Nagad, said, "A fair competition will only help the end-users. Two years back, when we started, the monopoly in the market beggared belief. We have reduced the cash-out or send money charge."
Mizanur Rashid, the chief commercial officer of bKash, said the government should take decisions based on a win-win situation for all. "The time and travel costs are not being taken into consideration while referring to the high charges."
Barrister M Iftekhar Jonaed, a lawyer of the Supreme Court, said the competition commission has the legal capacity to intervene in the sector to break the monopoly. "One of the tasks of the commission is to ensure that no firm enjoys an undue advantage because of its monopoly market share."
TRNB Secretary General Samir Kumar Dey said, "As one operator is holding the majority of the market share, the cost for cash out or bill pay at the user side is not going down. Although some small operators are trying to lower the service costs, it is not becoming effective because of the uneven competition."