Md. Shahnawaz, who lives in the remote village of Motiganj under the Sonagazi Upazila of Feni district, got into trouble when his expatriate friend from Oman asked him to send Taka 1,15,000 at the earliest.
However, he was able to send the money on short notice and at low cost thanks to the Union Digital Center (UDC) which provides the bank agent service in remote areas of the country.
âThe Covid-19 pandemic has made it very risky and inconvenient for me to travel to the district town, about 20 km from my village, to send money through Bank Asia. I was able to send money with the help of Motiganj Union Digital Center which provides Bank Asia agent banking services, âShahnawaz said.
Md Saleh Uddin Faisal, the centre’s entrepreneur, took it upon himself to send money easily in a short time through the centre’s agent’s banking system.
Shahnawaz couldn’t even think he would be able to send the money so easily. Like him, many people in the union now use agent banking services through the government’s Union digital centers.
âAgent banking is gradually gaining popularity among the villagers of remote unions, as they easily receive all kinds of banking services,â said Md Saleh Uddin Faisal, entrepreneur of Motiganj Union Digital Center.
Faisal said he provides all banking services to the villagers and today around two to three lakh Taka are processed daily through his center.
Speaking to BSS, a2i’s national digital access and financial services consultant Iqbal Hossain Sohel said agent banking under the digital hub network is increasingly becoming the key point in the economy. rural, as marginalized people get involved in the mainstream of banking.
He said deposit mobilization has gained momentum and shippers are now also opting for the platform largely, as recipients can withdraw funds without going to a bank branch.
By July 2021, he said, marginalized people were getting used to taking banking services at a total of 4,470 digital centers across the country.
Until July 2021, he said, the total amount of deposit collection stood at 13.7 billion taka, while agent outlets disbursed 19.6 billion taka in installments. .
About 3 million marginalized people use branch banking services, he added.
Iqbal Hossain Sohel said rural and underserved communities face significant challenges in accessing financial services and they still have to travel significant distances, spend considerable sums and time to receive financial services, as their the nearest bank branch is often too far away.
To overcome this situation, he said, a2i stepped in with a digital hub-based agent banking model where existing digital hub entrepreneurs become a banking agent to provide financial services to hard-to-reach customers.
Through the combination of technology and agent network, digital hub entrepreneurs are now able to provide rural banking services to the marginalized and disadvantaged community, he added.
Iqbal Hossain Sohel said that the bank agent’s goals are to include the rural unbanked population in the formal banking system and provide access to various financial services through the digital hub.
A2i introduced the service to save citizens time and money by offering financial services from the nearest agent points, he added.
UDCs provide digital services through 12 commercial banks. The banks are Mutual Trust Bank, AB Bank, Bank Asia, NRBC Bank, Modhumoti Bank, NRB Bank, City Bank, BRAC Bank, UCB, Premier Bank, Trust Bank and Eastern Bank.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina from his office and former New Zealand Prime Minister and UNDP Global Administrator Helen Clark from Char Kukri Mukri jointly inaugurated the Union Information and Service Center (Digital Center) through the country via videoconference on November 11, 2010.
Following on from the success of the Union Digital Center in 2013, digital centers have been set up in all neighborhoods of municipalities and local authorities.
Around 294 digital services are currently provided to rural populations by union digital centers, said Iqbal Hossain Sohel.
Services include digital center payment, online banking, overseas employment application, vaccine registration, maintenance card download and printing, public exam results, university admission, passport application, visa verification and tracking, online driving license application, birth registration, health information, agriculture information, information about market, information about law enforcement agencies, information about admission tests at all levels (school, university, etc.), information about public exams, weather forecast / information on natural disasters, social security network-VGD, VGF, Kabikha, Kabita – information, land information – registration, transfer, registration, investigation, family planning information, mobi bank service the, information on employment and employment, voter identity card and various information related to the elections, information relating to all kinds of development activities carried out at local and central levels.
In addition, people can now benefit from services such as computer typesetting, printing, scanning and laminating, photographic service, photocopying service, internet browsing and email service – connectivity with the information highway -, video conferencing, mobile phone service, tax information, income tax, VAT, excise duty, business and leisure information, various types of government forms to download and all other information relating to the government services of the centers.