Md. Arfan Ali, President & Managing Director at Bank Asia Ltd. The Dreamer of Poverty Free Bangladesh – Raju Alim

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Bank Asia Ltd. started its journey on 27th November, 1999 to materialize the dream of a group of successful and renowned entrepreneurs of the country with a mission to assist in bringing high quality service to customers and to participate in the growth and expansion of national economy. Our vision is to have a poverty free Bangladesh in the course of a generation in the new millennium, reflecting national aspiration, and to build a society where human dignity and human rights receive the highest consideration. Recently he gave an interview to Raju Alim on the future prospects of Mobile Banking.

There is a new term introduced in our banking industry that is ‘Agent Banking’ and Bank Asia Ltd. firstly introduced this term of banking three years earlier. What is really mean by agent banking?

Md. Arfan Ali: yes, Bank Asia is the pioneer of agent banking in the country. We’ve already celebrated three years of agent banking few days earlier. There were many journalists and colleagues in Munshigonj where we’ve the first agent. It was a grand celebration. Bank Asia wanted to open agent banking for all. Why agent banking introduces? We’ve to pay huge salary for the employees, huge cost for security fact along with maintaining cost running a brick and mortal branch. And it is more costly to viable a branch in rural areas. So both govt. and private aren’t willing to operate branch in rural areas. So a vast portion of our population is out of the banking service. Agent banking introduces to solve this problem. Technology helps us to reach agent banking in public doors. We think there might be a bank booth or agent booth in every union parishad. It can be set up in a village and shopor any grocery shop. We make our business model ensuring the best of technology along with following the rules and regulations of BBL.

How many agents do you have currently?

Md. Arfan Ali: currently we’ve more than one thousand agents.We’ve attached with A to I and we hope to reach at every village by next two years. But the funniest fact is that agent operation charge is lesser than a bank account.

Do you think that local entrepreneurs are inspired and benefited from this?

Md. Arfan Ali: we’re making local financial entrepreneurs who had no existence before. Secondly they can provide service to their own village and the customers are getting services within their own village. They are getting service at a minimum cost.

Customers of agent banking are like the customers of general banking. How do you be treated their credibility?

Md. Arfan Ali: They are customers. So we try our best to ensure all kinds of creditability. Bank has definite role for KOYC and it is our duty to privilege like we can complete all kinds of transactions by this account and there is amount variation too.

There are necessity for blockade and regulations. On the other hand, it becomes a bottle neck of our service. So would please tell us overall situation of banking sector?

Md. Arfan Ali: NowdaysIt is easy to get loan for the businessmen. There are many banks are working together and there are enough liquidity support in the market. Loan price is also low along with low rending rate. A major change occurs in banking sector in last five years. Central bank operates a mechanism in payment system set upping national payment switch and automated clearing house. In recent future, we’ll get facility of bank to bank cash transfer from mobile wallet. Those new permissions like mobile financial service, agent banking service and other payment service intricate each other. We’re getting faster mobile banking because of their passionate development over here in place of generic growth in branch banking, agent banking and mobile banking. Most importantly, there were less advancement in banking technology. This is called disruptive technology when they made players but unexpectedly somebody else is playing here.

We’ve often seen such tendency in every sector.

Md. Arfan Ali: Mobile financial service is developing by this chance. Now we’ve necessity to get better service to the customers. If we can mapping every bKash account, bank account then can be the wonderful thing and most important thing will be there. That will change the game. Then everybody will be out of this restriction. Banking regulation will fall down. Everybody will be strong and this payment system will be developed.

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