Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)– Dream of Bangladesh always had inclusiveness embedded in it, Atiur Rahman, former Governor of Bangladesh Bank (BB), has said.
“Bangladesh is now cited as a success story of inclusive growth with stunning human development indices despite the difficult start of its development journey in the seventies in a hostile global and natural environment,” Dr. Rahman said while making a presentation on “Financial Inclusion and Inclusive Growth: The Success Story of Mobile Financial Services” at Human Development Report Office of UNDP in New York on Thursday.
The workshop was chaired by Dr. Selim Jahan, Head of HRDO and participated by officials of his office and other related departments of UNDP, according to a message, received in Dhaka on Friday.
The talk was live streamed to all UNDP departments and country offices all around the world.
Dr. Rahman made this presentation after attending the three day retreat on ‘infrastructure financing’ organized by the President of UN General Assembly, it added.
Its early adoption of home-grown social innovations in the areas of finance, agriculture and health helped create a solid foundation for subsequent development gains, according to the former BB governor.
“Enough space was given to the entrepreneurs, particularly SMEs, who have been playing significant role in making this journey more inclusive and job-producing,” Dr. Rahman explained.
He also said this inclusive development strategy has been backed by socially responsible banking encouraged by a developmental central bank.
The central bank in recent years have leveraged the financial system to innovative and deepen empowerment initiatives particularly in the areas of agriculture, small and medium enterprises, women entrepreneurship, green financing and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility).
These initiatives have been boosting domestic demand, improving quality of growth and navigating the external shocks, Dr. Rahman added.
“The learning by doing approach focused on stakeholder consultation and strategic partnership with MFIs and private sector helped Bangladesh accelerate financial inclusion,” he noted.
Early adoption of digital technology in the payment system virtually revolutionized the financial inclusion landscape.
Over 40 million registered customers and nearly 1.0 million agents this class of financial services has virtually reached all segments of population including those who are hard to reach just in a period of four to five years, according to the former BB governor.
Another digital financial service called Agent Banking using biometric Know Your Customer (KYC) has been initiated since 2014 providing particularly flexible friendly access to readymade garments workers beyond their working hours.
“The mobile and agent banking services could flourish mainly because of the factors like mostly cash-based economy, significant remittances inflows, rapid urbanization and industrialization and defined regulatory structure,” the former governor explained.
He also said: “Yet there are challenges like ensuring full-proof security to the payment system, interoperability of the mobile financial services and agreed model of revenue sharing by different stakeholders.”
The widespread adoption of 4G technology will further expand the scope of ‘ mobile first’ financing and other services.
“So high priority on digitization to democratize the inclusion process must continue to get attention of the policy makers and regulators,” he said, adding that the mobile financial services will continue to push out the frontiers of all service deliveries for some years to come.
Dr. Selim Jahan, who chaired the session, profusely appreciated Bangladesh’s strategic moves on digital financial inclusion and asked his colleagues to document such successes stories across the globe to push further the core spirit of SDGs embodied in the slogan ‘ nobody should be left behind’.