Of the total deposits in agent banking, Tk12,759.8 crore deposit was mobilized from rural areas and Tk4,599.1 crore from urban areas
Agent banking, the service that takes banking to the unbanked, attained a deposit balance of Tk17,000 crore in March.
At the end of March this year, deposit collection through agent banking channels was Tk17,358.8 crore — a 108.38% year-on-year growth, according to the latest data from the Bangladesh Bank.
The rising trend of agent banking services amid the pandemic signifies there is huge scope to bring the rural unbanked people under the umbrella of formal banking services, said a senior official of the central bank.
Of the total deposits in agent banking, Tk12,759.8 crore deposit was mobilized from rural areas and Tk4,599.1 crore from urban areas, central bank data shows.
This initiative of the central bank was introduced in 2013 as part of its financial inclusion agenda. Then in 2016, lenders kickstarted their operations with just deposit mobilization and gradually they added on more services. Now, 26 banks run agent banking windows.
Of them, nine lend through the channel, providing an alternative to loan sharks for rural people to get credit.
At the end of March this year, loan disbursement through the channels stood at Tk285.6 crore, which was 396% higher than the same month of the previous year.
Now, agents provide services such as cash deposits, withdrawals, remittance disbursement, small-value loan disbursement and recovery of the loans, and cash payments under the government's social safety net programs.
Agent banking is a big way for deposit mobilization but now the central bank has started programs encouraging banks to go for loan disbursements to boost the rural economy, said Bangladesh Bank officials.
Bank Asia, NRB Commercial Bank, Dutch-Bangla Bank, Al-Arafah Islami Bank, Modhumoti Bank, Social Islami Bank, Standard Bank, First Security Islami Bank, Agrani Bank, Mutual Trust Bank, Midland Bank, and United Commercial Bank are the pioneers of agent banking in the country.