InM participated in the six-day long ‘Development Fair 2017’ of PKSF starting on 29 October 2017 at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka. A total of 89 partner organisations of PKSF displayed different products produced by grassroots participants of different PKSF programmes. In the fair, the InM stall exhibited its publications and other activities.
An MOU has been signed between Institution for Inclusive Finance and Development (InM) and Prime Asia University (PAU) in December 2017. Mustafa K Mujeri, Executive Director, InM and Professor Abdul Hannan Chowdhury, Vice-Chancellor, PAU signed the contract and exchanged their thoughts regarding potential areas of collaboration.
InM is working towards forming the Financial Inclusion Network-Bangladesh (FIN-B) to develop, share and disseminate knowledge and expertise on financial inclusion through stimulating exchanges, developing collaboration, and promoting the Network to its members as a knowledge partner in their preferred areas of inclusive finance.
FIN-B will leverage expertise in advancing financial inclusion as a key instrument for poverty reduction and inclusive growth and development. It will be a unique platform to bring together all financial sector stakeholders including banks/MFIs/NGOs/financial institutions/local government and grassroots organisations for sharing ideas and best practices from home and abroad. For ensuring effective functioning of FIN-B, a Steering Committee has been formed under the Chairmanship of Dr. Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, Chairman of InM and PKSF including representatives from Bangladesh Bank, Financial Institutions Division of the Ministry of Finance, banks, MFIs and other stakeholders for providing guidance to the Network.
The first Steering Committee (SC) meeting of FIN-B was held on 23 October 2017 at PKSF Conference Room in which important decisions to activate the Network were taken. It was decided that FIN-B will be formally launched in January 2018 through organising a day long workshop on its future activities.
On 26 October 2017, Institute for Inclusive Finance and Development (InM) organised a round table discussion on ‘Interoperability of Digital Finance in Bangladesh: Challenges and Taking-off Options’, supported by UNCDF-SHIFT (Shaping Inclusive Finance Transformations) at Lakeshore Hotel in Dhaka. The State Minister for Finance and Planning, Mr. M. A. Mannan MP was present as the Chief Guest while Mr. Arijit Chowdhury, Additional Secretary, Financial Institutions Division, Ministry of Finance, and Mr. Subhankar Saha, Executive Director of Bangladesh Bank, were present as special guests. Dr. Lila Rashid, General Manager of Payment Systems Department, Bangladesh Bank was the designated discussant. Dr. Mustafa K Mujeri, Executive Director of InM, presented the Keynote Paper on the occasion. The discussion session was chaired by Dr. Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, Chairman of InM.
Honorable State Minister, Mr. M. A. Mannan MP observed that interoperability of digital financial services (DFS) would increase client benefits, facilitate competition based on product innovation and diversification, and boost the growth of digital finance ecosystem in Bangladesh. It would accelerate digital financial inclusion and complement Bangladesh government’s actions for digital transformation of the key sectors of the economy to achieve the goals of ‘Vision 2021’. He emphasised that It was time for Bangladesh to develop the digital finance ecosystem such that interoperability could be ensured through designing a comprehensive framework.
The speakers in the dialogue emphasised that Bangladesh had successfully promoted new innovations for promoting financial services to the low income groups, especially rural poor, women and small businesses. Rapid growth in adoption and active usage of digital financial services in Bangladesh started especially since 2012. Mobile financial inclusion has shown the promise of emerging as the most viable way of accessing financial services for the previously unbanked population. The regulators and private sectors need to respond to emerging issues related to DFS like interoperability, USSD pricing, e-KYC (electronic Know Your Customer), required regulatory reforms, innovation in product development targeting the low income groups etc.
Interoperability brings benefits to consumers, mobile money providers, and agents through increased convenience, cost savings, a greater choice of providers and better liquidity management for agents. Further, interoperability is also relevant to several issues of competition e.g. reduction in network effects that restrict consumers’ freedom to switch based on quality of service and price; improved user experience and ease of account usage in across-provider transfers; reduction in agent exclusivity as agents can function for multiple mobile financial services (MFS) providers; increasing diversity of MFS options for consumers; and access to MFS channels from third-parties such that MFS originating in one MFS network can land on another MFS network.
The roundtable discussions further observed that DFS ecosystem needed a comprehensive design, stakeholders’ buy-in and action plan for developing the infrastructure, regulatory frameworks and taking the agenda forward. The digital finance interoperability would enable different payment infrastructures and financial service providers to effect payments between customers. Through the mechanism, interoperability would expand the reach of transaction accounts and retail payment instruments, making them more useful for end-users.
Bangladesh Bank has successfully introduced national payment switch, a robust payment infrastructure and actively promoting interoperability among banks and financial institutions. Drawing from those experiences, now the key regulator of financial sector expects to introduce digital finance interoperability by June 2018. Concerned departments of Bangladesh Bank are working to initiate a consultative process with service providers and outline the action plan for implementation. Bangladesh Bank is confident to achieve intended objectives within the targeted timeline, observe Mr. Saha and Dr. Rashid from the Bangladesh Bank.
A move is under way to organise a platform styled Financial Inclusion Network-Bangladesh (FIN-B) for developing, sharing and disseminating knowledge and expertise in financial inclusion.
Its main objective will be leveraging expertise in advancing financial inclusion as a key instrument for poverty reduction, inclusive growth and development, officials said.
It is expected to be developed as a unique platform to bring together all the financial sector stakeholders, including banks, microfinance institutions (MFIs), non-government organisations (NGOs), financial institutions and, local government and grassroots organisations for sharing ideas and best practices from home and abroad.
The proposed FIN-B is set to be guided and supervised by a steering committee (SC) which will consist of 12 members. Chairman, the Institute for Inclusive Finance and Development (InM), will be the chairman of the SC. Besides, representatives from different state agencies and Dhaka University will be included into the SC.
Besides, the network will promote both institutional and financial collaboration amongst its members and organisations working in the development sectors like finance and development and in areas of research, training, education, knowledge management and public policy.
InM has taken the initiative to stimulate exchanges, develop collaboration and promote the network to its members, a senior official of InM said.
Bangladesh is a pioneer in financial inclusion supported by active leadership of central bank, ongoing reforms in banking and financial sector, rich heritage in microfinance and recent strides for building “Digital Bangladesh” and rapid gains in expanding mobile financial services, according an InM document.
Tuesday, 12 September 2017