Bank Asia is set to form a neobank, a thoroughly novel concept for Bangladesh, within December, in a move that can change the face of banking in the country.
A neobank is a kind of digital banking operation where no branch is required as the service would totally be delivered online, said Arfan Ali, managing director of Bank Asia.
"And we have taken decision to introduce the banking model in the country for the first time," he said.
Neobanks can be called fintech firms that provide digital and mobile-first financial solutions payments and money transfers, lending and different other banking services.
The customers of the platform will settle all transactions by way of using apps and online modules, he said.
Although clients now do banking by way of using the internet and apps, their accounts are with the branches.
Under the neobank platform, accounts will not have any attachment to the branch.
Developed nations have already embraced the method in order to build a cashless society. The platform will accomplish all types of microcredit and small lending, deposit, fund transfer and card payments.
"Bank Asia will attract the tech-savvy youths to popularise the service," Ali said.
The coronavirus pandemic has already created a strong habit of banking through the use of online platforms and app-based solutions for many people.
Internet and app-based banking has been on the rise as people across the globe now maintain social distancing practices.
"The habit will certainly continue when the pandemic will be rooted out in the days ahead. So, we should take decision to help customers do their banking by using online platform and apps in a wide range," said Ali.
He went on to hope that the neobank solution would help spread the practice of a cashless society to every part of the country like developed nations.
In addition, coronavirus has also given a lesson to the globe that there is no scope to run branch banking all the time.
"Against the backdrop, this is the proper time to push the digital banking massively and we are doing so," Ali said.
The lender will apply to the central bank to get approval to run the neobank platform in the quickest possible time.
Bank Asia yesterday informed stock investors of this through Dhaka Stock Exchange.
"We will start taking preparation to introduce the platform in December just after getting approval from the central bank," Ali said.
Bank Asia will hold 51 per cent shares of the company and the rest will be controlled by the foreign companies.
Some foreign fintech companies will be included to form the subsidiary company.
Small lending like retail and microcredit ones will be given out without any bureaucratic complexity when the platform will get a tempo.
The lender will set up a strong call centre to provide services to clients of banking solutions.
The employees of the call centre will resolve all types of clients' problem and their curiosity as well.
"In most of the cases, clients have to come to branches if they face any problem. But, they will get the support from the call centres," Ali said.
The lender will ink agreements with different payment gateway service providers like MasterCard and Visa for the implementation of the solution.
"We have taken a plan to reduce setting up new branches. And the latest virtual banking platform will help to a great extent for the implementation of the plan."
The lender, which started its operation in November 1999, is running its operation through 129 branches.
Bank Asia, one of the leading banks in making the country's financial inclusion vibrant, has played a great role in extending banking services to people from all walks of life.
The bank has so far recruited 3,600 agents, which have been providing banking services to more than 30 lakh clients.
"Neobank will give a boost further to the financial inclusion. This will also help mobilise deposits and loan disbursement," Ali said.
As of June this year, the bank disbursed Tk 23,500 crore in loans and mobilised deposits of nearly Tk 27,000 crore.