Bank Asia has come up with a novel way to bring in remittance as part of its efforts to get migrant workers to send money home through the official channels.
The private lender is set to introduce the remittance card that can be used at the 8,500 digital branches of the Bangladesh Post Office across the country as well as the cash machines of any bank to withdraw funds.
Bank Asia receives about $1 billion in remittance every year. The lender is expecting the figure will double this year once the remittance card is rolled out later this month.
"This is a novel arrangement that will ultimately encourage remitters to send their money through the formal channel on a real-time basis," said Md Arfan Ali, managing director of Bank Asia.
Receivers of remittance will not face any hassle as the expatriate Bangladeshis can directly deposit their hard-earned money to the remittance cards of their near and dear ones.
The initiative will also help those living in remote areas as many lenders are yet to set up branches there but the post office's digital branches are available.
Every digital branch of the post office has installed a point of sale (PoS) terminal where the receivers will swipe their remittance card to get their desired fund.
Besides, the agent banking booths of Bank Asia will also be able to provide the cash by using their PoS terminals.
Bank Asia has so far allowed a total of 3,422 agents in the country to run small-scale banking.
The latest move means customers can avoid going to bank branches to withdraw cash, Ali said.
Both the digital branches of the Post Office and Bank Asia's agents will provide remittance card to clients on behalf of the lender.
Customers will not need to spend any amount to avail the card, which will be issued within three days of application.
To get the card, customers will need to fill in the Electronic Know Your Customer (e-KYC) form. And given the central bank's recent move to roll out e-KYC the process will take just five minutes.
Customers will be allowed to fill up the e-KYC by just submitting their national identity card.
Bank Asia will also offer discounts for cardholders if they purchase products from stores with which the lender has agreements, Ali said.
Remittance has recently become a major tool for the government to manage its macroeconomy as exports continue to slide in recent months.
It has turned into a lifeline of the economy given the frustrating performance of all other economic indicators.
In February, expatriate Bangladeshis sent home $1.45 billion to take the tally to $12.49 billion so far this fiscal year.
The eight-month receipts were up 20.05 per cent year-on-year, according to data from the Bangladesh Bank.
The move would also help further the central bank's financial inclusion agenda as it would attract rural people to open accounts with the lender, according to Ali.
Besides, remitters will also be discouraged to send money through 'hundi' channel, which is a cross-boundary illegal money transferring system that sidesteps banks, Ali said.
Bank Asia's net profit in 2018 stood at Tk 226.62 crore, up 10.68 per cent year-on-year.
Shares of Bank Asia, which made its debut on the Dhaka Stock Exchange in 2004, closed at Tk 16.50 yesterday, up 1.85 per cent from the previous day.