Mobile account users have fallen by a staggering one crore in just six months after the central bank cracked down on illegal accounts by strengthening compliance.
Active mobile money accounts declined by a third to 2.07 crore in January this year from its peak of 3.07 crore last August, according to central bank data.
The central bank recently put restrictions on having more than one account for a client and lowered the ceiling per transaction.
The strict regulations have reduced the number of mobile account users, said Abul Kashem Md Shirin, managing director of Dutch-Bangla Bank, which owns mobile financial service provider Rocket.
He said although the number of active accounts declined, it will not affect the business of MFS providers since the deactivated accounts were mostly used for illegal activities.
The number of registered accounts grew steadily to 5.90 crore in January this year from 5.69 crore in August last year.
The use of mobile accounts has reduced among small businessmen and students due to the slash in the transaction limit, said Kamal Quadir, chief executive officer of bKash, the leading MFS platform.
He said the BB is trying to give a legitimate solution to bring remittance through mobile banking channel which will also help boost the number of users.
In January last year, the central bank lowered the maximum deposits ceiling to Tk 15,000 from Tk 25,000 per transaction in order to curb the misuse of the channel.
At the same time, the MFS providers were directed not to open more than one account per national identification card. The directives came into effect in February the same year.
The number of active account-holders started to fall since last August following the central bank's stringent application of the new rules, said MFS providers.
In November, the BB again put a limit on the total amount that can be kept deposited with an account fixing it at Tk 3 lakh, accelerating the fall of the users, they said.
Transaction value, however, went up.
Monthly transaction through the MFS channel was Tk 30,996 crore in January this year, up from Tk 22,327 crore in February last year.
Currently, there are 19 MFS licence-holders and all except one are offering the service. bKash and Rocket together control 99 percent market share.