As per the Bangladesh Bank (BB) data, MFS transactions went down to Tk41, 404 crore in August, which was Tk62, 999 crore in July
Transactions through the Mobile Financial Services (MFS) are on the rise thanks to the pandemic, as only 40% of such account owners can operate accounts by themselves, according to a survey report of the Brac Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) of the Brac University.
The survey report was presented on Sunday in a webinar series, titled, “Last Mile Experience of Mobile Financial Services during COVID-19”.
The Brac Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) arranged the third episode of the webinar series.
The BIGD research fellow Dr. Zulkarin Jahangir and Senior Research Associate Abdullah Hasan Safir presented the report.
According to the report, 50% MFS account holders operate their MFS accounts with the help of nearby MFS agents, while 5% account holders operate with the help of family members and 4% account holders take help from neighbours or friends.
About 61% MFS account holders cannot read SMS, 28% account holders check accounts when necessary and 10% account owners said they received unnecessary SMS from mobile operators, the survey report said.
During the April- June period of this year, 19% male-headed households sent money through MFS accounts at least once, while for female headed households, the ratio is 16%, as per the report.
On the other hand, 55% male-headed households received money through their MFS accounts at least once during the April-June period, while for female-headed households, the ratio is 61%, it also said.
The survey report said during April to June of this year, 15% new MFS accounts were opened to receive financial support from the government during the COVID-19, while 85% MFS account were already opened.
Among the new MFS account, 60% MFS accounts were opened to receive financial support from the government, 34% accounts opened to receive money from friends and relatives, 15% account were opened for general transactions due to the lockdown and 5% new account were opened to avoid direct bank transactions due to the COVID-19, says the BIGD survey report.
bKash chief commercial officer Mizanur Rashid said the COVID-19 has a big boost for MFS transactions. The MFS service providers have to be more customer centric and more efficient, he added.
The BIGD executive director Imran Matin said some digital innovations have the potential of increasing inequalities in existing power asymmetries, which can worsen the suffering of vulnerable populations.
Therefore, we need to take a skeptic, social science perspective towards the pitfalls of rapid digitization and innovate accordingly, he also said.
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation senior program officer Maria May expressed how the research was a testament to what economic lifeline mobile money has been for many households in Bangladesh during the COVID-19 period.
Unnaon Somunnoy emeritus fellow Khondoker Shakhawat Ali and BIGD research Mehnaz Rabbani also were present in the webinar.