Mobile money customers brace for hurdles | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 31, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, January 31, 2017

Mobile money customers brace for hurdles

Mobile wallet users will face restrictions from tomorrow as operators are going to implement the central bank's latest directive that lowered the transaction limit.

Bangladesh Bank cut the ceiling for mobile money transactions on January 11; however, it took three weeks to implement the order due to technical difficulties, said mobile financial service (MFS) operators.

The MFS operators said they have taken preparations to bring down the ceiling, inform the agents and change their software.

 “We started preparing from February 1 and the daily and monthly transaction volume limit for mobile wallet users will be cut according to the central bank's order,” said Kamal Quadir, chief executive of bKash.

Starting February, a maximum of Tk 15,000 can be deposited in a mobile banking account each day, while Tk 10,000 can be taken out, the central bank said in a notice. The previous daily ceiling was Tk 25,000 for both cash-in and cash-out.

The number of transactions allowed has also been cut to three deposits and two withdrawals. Previously, it was five deposits and three withdrawals. The limit was slashed as the facility was being abused by 'some vested quarters', said officials of the central bank. However, several MFS users said the move would inconvenience them, affect their businesses and limit their ability to enjoy the full benefits of the service.

It would also slow down the government's financial inclusion agenda.

However, the central bank said the decision was taken to safeguard the sector from misuse and superfluous transactions, and bring discipline. “Over-the-counter transactions might fall but that is our target,” said Subhankar Saha, executive director and spokesman for the BB.

Officials said the government recently indentified that foreign remittance fell all of a sudden; a big chunk went into illegal channels and were transected through mobile money accounts. From now, a mobile banking customer can deposit a maximum of Tk 1 lakh in a month, down from Tk 1.5 lakh.

The maximum monthly withdrawal limit is Tk 50,000, which was Tk 1.5 lakh previously. A customer also cannot withdraw more than Tk 5,000 within 24 hours of receiving money.

However, most customers are yet to be made aware of this new limit as neither Bangladesh Bank nor the MFS providers have published any advertisement to this effect.

The latest move, apart from inconveniencing the general subscribers, especially in the rural areas, is likely to have a detrimental impact on small businesses that are growingly becoming dependent on mobile money for their commercial transactions, said industry insiders.

“The decision will negatively impact customers' daily lives,” said a top official of a MFS provider, requesting anonymity.

Lowering the daily or monthly ceiling can negatively affect the e-commerce industry, said Rajib Ahmed, president of e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB).

“The decision would deter customers from making any big purchase, which would be detrimental to the growth of e-commerce,” said Ahmed. There is a wide variety of products that are worth more than Tk 15,000; so, customers cannot purchase those products anymore, he added.

Transactions worth of Tk 1,000 crore take place through e-commerce sites each year, around 10 percent of which are through MFS platforms, according to industry insiders. Last year, mobile money transactions grew 48.75 percent year-on-year to Tk 234,691.79 crore.

Currently, about Tk 750 crore is transacted a day through MFS on average, mostly through over the counter transactions.

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