BB gets down to rolling out Taka Pay card
The Bangladesh Bank has stepped up efforts to roll out a national card this year in order to cut the country's reliance on international cards and save foreign currencies.
Two committees of the central bank recently started working to introduce the "Taka Pay" card after Bangladesh Bank Governor Abdur Rouf Talukder hinted about the initiative for the first time on June 18.
Initially, the plan was to introduce the card by September. Later, the governor said it would be issued in December.
The steering committee is led by BB Deputy Governor Kazi Sayedur Rahman and the working committee is headed by Md Motasem Billah, director of the central bank's payment systems department.
The committees comprise representatives from eight local banks – Brac Bank, United Commercial Bank, City Bank, Sonali Bank, Eastern Bank, Islami Bank, Dutch-Bangla Bank and Mutual Trust Bank – that have a major share in the card business.
Paris-based consultancy Fime has been appointed to develop the card.
Also, the central bank arranged a three-day workshop at its headquarters last month with the presence of representatives from Fime and the eight banks to advance the idea to fruition.
The eight banks will issue the national card on a pilot basis, said a steering committee member, adding that other banks will also be able to issue the card as well.
Primarily, the central bank will roll out a card for domestic use and later, a taka-rupee card will be made available, said the member.
BB Assistant Spokesperson Md Sarwar Hossain said the issue of formulating the card is at the primary stage.
"The main factor is that it will be our own card and it will be controlled by the central bank."
Transactions of the card will go through the National Payment Switch Bangladesh operated by the BB.
In Bangladesh, foreign currency expenditures of banks and other financial institutions are on the rise keeping pace with the growing number of cards issued by international payment systems such as VISA, Mastercard, Amex, JCB, Discover and UnionPay, said industry people, adding that the expenses will come down if the national card can be launched.
Syed Mahbubur Rahman, managing director of Mutual Trust Bank, said the national card will be like RuPay, a multinational financial service platform in India.
"If we can introduce the card, transaction charges and fees paid by customers will reduce."
He said security is a major factor. "When the card is controlled by the central bank instead of an international payment platform, we can ensure security."
Countries in the region have launched national cards. Apart from India's RuPay, Pakistan has rolled out PakPay, Sri Lanka introduced LankaPay, and Saudi Arabia launched Mada.
Selim RF Hussain, managing director of Brac Bank, said an independent and sovereign card is essential in the current geopolitical situation.
"Now we have to pay fees and charges to international payments platforms for settling transactions. As a result, a large volume of foreign currencies goes to them. If we can introduce the card, that foreign currency will be saved."
In Bangladesh, the number of debit, credit and prepaid cards stood at 3.17 crore, 22.16 lakh and 40.37 lakh in May, BB data showed.
In the month, debit card transactions involved Tk 39,014 crore while it was Tk 2,592 crore for credit cards and Tk 353.32 crore for prepaid cards.