Mobile wallet users in a sticky spot | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 15, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:16 AM, January 15, 2017

Mobile wallet users in a sticky spot

Mobile wallet users will struggle following the implementation of the central bank's latest directive, which lowered the ceiling for transactions.

In an effort to arrest the misuse of the system, Bangladesh Bank on Wednesday dispatched a notice instructing mobile financial service providers to allow a maximum of Tk 15,000 to be deposited into an account each day and Tk 10,000 to be taken out.

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The limit previously was Tk 25,000 for both deposit and withdrawal.

The MFS providers are yet to lower the transaction ceiling and the agents and users have no idea about the new BB directive.

The correspondent spoke to a cross-section of MFS users and all said the BB move would bring great inconvenience to them, affect their businesses and limit their ability to enjoy the full benefits of the service.

It would also slow down the government financial inclusion agenda.

An account holder can make deposits and withdraw twice in a day as per the new directive. Previously, five deposits and three withdrawals were allowed.

From now, a mobile banking customer can deposit a maximum of Tk 1 lakh in a month, down from Tk 1.50 lakh.

The maximum monthly withdrawal limit is Tk 50,000, which was earlier Tk 1.50 lakh.

Muslim Ali, a trader at Mohammadpur Town Hall kitchen market, said he uses the MFS to pay his suppliers all over Bangladesh and the new restrictions will create an extra headache.

A customer cannot withdraw more than Tk 5,000 within 24 hours of receipt of money. After learning about this limitation from the correspondent, Ali said it will only make matters difficult for him.

“Every day I have to send more than Tk 20,000 to my suppliers,” said Nuruzzaman, a chicken trader in the same market.

A customer can withdraw over Tk 5,000 but for that he/she must show proper verification -- national identity card or its photocopy -- to the mobile banking agent beforehand.

Vendors at Karwan Bazar said they avoid carrying cash for fear of being mugged as they have to travel at night.

The new limit means they will only be able to deposit a partial amount in their mobile accounts and carry the rest in cash.

Rafiq Mozumder, proprietor of Mim Telecom in Mohammadpur, an agent of both bKash and Rocket, said he is yet to be informed about the new directive, but it will create problems for him.

Lowering the transaction limit also helps to increase over the counter volume, which is also a common problem for the MFS business, he said.

On the other hand, industry insiders said showing national ID cards to withdraw more than Tk 5,000 is not an effective solution to check the misuse of the service. Instead, it will bring complexities into the system and harassment for customers.

Moreover, it is not possible for an agent to detect a person with a fake ID while taking cash out from the mobile account.

When contacted, Kamal Quadir, chief executive officer of bKash, said they are assessing the impact of the latest directive on their business.

However, after the central bank's notice, Abul Kashem Shirin, managing director of Dutch-Bangla Bank, who is running the country's second largest MFS service, said this may create some problems for those who receive their salaries in their mobile wallets.

Garment workers are mostly given their salaries in their mobile banking accounts.

“They are used to withdraw a major part of their salaries on the first day but with this restriction it will not be possible.” 

Industry experts said it is easy to issue a directive but implementation is a totally different ball game, said an industry insider.

“The central bank does not have the weapon to monitor whether the MFS providers are implementing the directive or not.”

There are about 3.96 crore registered mobile banking accounts and 1.52 crore of them are regularly in use, according to the BB.

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