Bangladesh Bank yesterday restored the interbank cheque clearing system in a major relief for users but a backlog of cheques and the non-operational electronic fund transfer (EFT) platform are still causing sufferings to clients.
Interbank electronic cheque transaction and fund transfer activities through the Bangladesh Automated Clearing House (BACH) of the central bank were suspended on April 13 due to the disconnection of an optical fibre cable between two data centres of the BB.
The central bank restored the connection between the centres – one at Motijheel and the other at Mirpur – on the evening of April 13, but the full-fledged operation of the BACH is yet to be restored.
The BACH, the first-ever electronic clearinghouse in Bangladesh, has two components – an automated cheque processing system (ACPS) and the EFT.
The ACPS has been restored. The EFT was restarted for a while yesterday, but it collapsed again, a central banker said.
"The EFT may be operable from today. Although we have put in all our efforts to resume the system, there is a bit of uncertainty to resolve the glitch by today."
Banks submitted 1.46 lakh inter-bank cheques involving around Tk 150,000 crore to the BB.
Syed Mahbubur Rahman, managing director of Mutual Trust Bank, said his bank submitted all pending inter-bank cheques to the central bank.
He expressed a hope that the EFT would return to normalcy by today, which will help customers conduct banking activities smoothly.
Emranul Huq, managing director of Dhaka Bank, said that the current problem would be completely solved once the BACH recovers fully.
The managing directors of two banks, however, said they had been unable to submit all cheques yesterday due to a huge backlog of the documents, meaning that clients would have to wait to receive money.
An accountant of a private firm said that his company had been facing a cash shortage for the last few days as it had failed to deposit money to its account using the cheques of its clients.
"Our bank has informed us the system has resumed, but we have been unable to manage our fund due to a large backlog of the cheques," he said.
On Thursday, the central bank settled some of the EFT transactions through its real-time gross settlement (RTGS). It did not use it yesterday, a banker said.
The central bank assured banks of settling EFT transactions through the RTGS today if the BACH does not restore fully.
Clients of a bank are allowed to send Tk 1 lakh and above to customers of other banks through the RTGS.
On the other hand, 95 per cent of the values, which are settled through the EFT, are below Tk 1 lakh.
The interbank transactions through the two digital modes are the largest in terms of number and volumes.
For instance, clients submit around one lakh interbank cheques, amounting to around Tk 12,000 crore, per day.
The ACPS uses a cheque imaging and truncation technology for electronic presentment and payment of paper-based instruments.
Under the EFT system, around 1.5 lakh transactions are settled by clients every day, amounting to Tk 1,000 crore.
Established in February 2011, the Bangladesh Electronic Fund Transfer Network (BEFTN) was the country's first paperless electronic interbank funds transfer system.
It facilitates both credit and debit transactions as a lead over cheque clearing systems.
The network can handle credit transfers such as payroll, foreign and domestic remittances, social security payments, company dividends, bill payments, corporate payments, government tax payments, and person-to-person payments.