Mobile financial service providers are taking an additional Tk 1.5 from the clients by charging Tk 20 instead of Tk 18.50 as cash-out fee for every Tk 1,000, telecom experts said today.
Charging an extra money this way is tantamount to theft or fraud, they said at a webinar on "Competition and Partnership in MFS Industry" organised by the Telecom Reporters' Network, Bangladesh (TRNB).
In the programme, they discussed various telecom issues, including financial services on mobile phones, its control system, competition and cost of service recipients.
They also mentioned that it is time to take initiative to reduce charges for MFS services.
"Multiply Tk 1.5 with the number of total transactions of a year, and see how much extra money is being taken," said Shyam Sunder Sikder, chairman of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC).
Terming the extra Tk 1.5 charge as theft and fraud, he said: "A monopoly business is going on here in the MFS sector. To prevent this, restrictions need to be imposed on significant market powers."
"We need to investigate how they [MFS providers)] are charging an additional Tk 1.5 for their services," said Abul Kashem, former deputy governor of Bangladesh Bank.
He said some companies are charging Tk 9.99 from the customers. "This is also a kind of cunning. What is the use of one penny in the country?"
Kashem further said that no charge can be taken for sending money on mobile phone. "Someone obeys it, someone not. Who will ensure justice here Bangladesh Bank or BTRC? Justice should be ensured here."
"There should not be any monopoly business and it is one of the main conditions of a free market economy," said Post and Telecom Minister Mustafa Jabbar said.
"It's the responsibly of the regulator to look after the matter so that none can act like a monster in the MFS industry," said Jabbar, while speaking at the occasion as the chief guest.
However, Mahbubur Rahman Alam, an associate professor at the Bangladesh Institute of Bank Management, said a survey on about 7,000 users showed that people were not worried about the Tk 20 charge.
However, they were upset on the additional payment of Tk 1.5, he said.
Talking about the issue over the phone, Mizanur Rashid, chief commercial officer of bKash, a leading financial services provider, said it would not be right to take any hasty decision to reduce the tariff.
However, bKash will support any initiative that will be good for both the operator and the customers, he said.
Mahtab Uddin Ahmed, president of the Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh, said there will be big changes in mobile financial services in the future.
Digital currency will come in the future and there will be no agent system, he added.