Transactions thru MFS drop for second month
Transactions through mobile financial services (MFS) dropped for a second month consecutively in August as the festival season started to flatten amid the economic downturn.
The volume of transactions declined by Tk 1,723 crore to Tk 87,446 in August compared to Tk 89,169 crore a month earlier.
MFS transactions had reached Tk 94,293 crore in June, when Eid-ul-Adha was celebrated, according to the latest data from Bangladesh Bank.
However, the all-time high was Tk 107,460 crore in April, which was bolstered by the country's top shopping season of Eid-ul-Fitr.
Industry people mainly attributed the decline in July and August to the usual drop in transactions during the following months of a big festival.
"MFS transactions usually pick up in the festival season and then drops in subsequent months," said Zahedul Islam, head of corporate communications and external affairs at Upay.
Shamsuddin Haider Dalim, head of corporate communications at bKash, echoed the same.
"Usually, the amount of transactions increases around various festivals, especially before every Eid, when customers make more purchases," he said.
As Eid-ul-Adha was celebrated at the beginning of July, transactions in June were much higher than the previous month of May.
"After that, the transaction volume returned to normal as before," Dalim added.
On year-on-year basis, the amount of MFS transactions increased by 18.5 per cent in August.
The transactions were made in the form of cash-in, cash-out, person-to-person transfers, merchant payments, government-to-person transfers, salary disbursements, talk-time purchases and utility bill payments using MFS platforms.
The amount of cash-out, where customers withdraw money from their MFS account, decreased by 9.46 per cent month-on-month to Tk 23,983.7 crore in August.
Meanwhile, merchant payments, where customers make purchases through their MFS account, increased by Tk 86 crore month-on-month to Tk 3,034.8 crore at the same time.
Salary disbursements decreased 20 per cent to Tk 2,648.9 crore month-on-month in August while utility bill payments increased by Tk 17.82 per cent to Tk 2,262.3 crore.
About 18.32 crore users are registered with 13 MFS providers, up more than 20 lakh from July.
Gender-wise, 10.62 crore males use the service against 7.65 crore females, as per central bank data. There were 14.93 lakh MFS agents across the country as of August.
Although the number of accounts surpassed the 18-core mark in July, the number of active unique users is far less, less than half of the official figures, according to experts.
The MFS providers are Rocket, bKash, MYCash, Islami Bank mCash, Trust Axiata Pay, FSIBL FirstPay SureCash, Upay, OK Wallet, Rupali Bank SureCash, TeleCash, Islamic Wallet, Meghna Bank Tap n' Pay, and Nagad.
Dalim went on to say that Bangladesh's MFS industry is growing at a significant pace.
"MFS providers like bKash are bringing a diverse range of innovative services every day, creating convenience and empowerment by enabling customers in their daily financial transactions, and expanding the digital ecosystem at large," he said.
"At the same time, integration with banks and other financial institutions is yielding more customer-focused services," Dalim added.
The head of corporate communications at bKash then said a notable takeaway for bKash is its continuous integration with banks and financial institutions, due which financial inclusion has gained momentum.
Many customers who were left out of financial services due to the obligation of transacting during limited working hours are now doing various types of transactions digitally by adding money from bank to bKash anytime from home.
Currently, customers can avail the digital nano loan, savings and Islamic savings of banks and financial institutions, and other services through the bKash app, he added.