Loan disbursement via agent banking divisions of banks has declined by 79.1 per cent of Tk 225.9 crore in April 2021 in comparison with that in the last month due to the nationwide lockdown enforced because of the coronavirus situation.
Based on the data from the Bangladesh Bank, the disbursement of loans from the banks’ agent banking division declined to Tk 59.7 crore in April 2021 from Tk 285.6 crore in March 2021.
The disbursement of loans via the agent banking division in March 2021 was the second-highest after the disbursement of Tk 483.1 crore in loans through the agent banking division in December 2020.
Bankers said that the fresh imposition of restrictions from April 5 had prompted the businesses, including the small and medium entrepreneurs, to adopt a go-slow approach to taking loans for their enterprises.
They stated that the banks which have been offering loans through their agent banking division might have decided to monitor the COVID-19 scene.
Of the disbursement in April, the disbursement in urban areas dropped by 80.85 per cent or Tk 93.7 crore to Tk 22.2 crore from Tk 115.9 crore in the previous month.
On top of that, the issuance of loans by the banks in the rural areas dropped by 77.9 per cent or Tk 132.2 crore to Tk 37.5 crore in April from Tk 169.7 crore in March.
With the Tk 59.7 crore disbursement in April, the banks’ outstanding lending through the agent banking wing increased to around Tk 2,560 crore.
In terms of loan disbursement, BRAC Bank took the top position among the banks while Bank Asia, The City Bank, Dutch-Bangla Bank, NRB Bank, Mutual Trust Bank, Al-Arafah Islami Bank, Islami Bank Bangladesh and Modhumoti Bank followed the chart.
Meanwhile, the deposits mobilisation by the banks saw an upturn to Tk 17,919.9 crore.
Of the deposits, the urban deposits reached Tk 4,800.3 crore against the rural deposits of Tk 13,119.6 crore.
An official of the central bank stated that the lending and deposit disbursement trend illustrated that the banks were mostly concentrating on mobilising funds mostly from the rural areas by utilising agent banking divisions instead of channelling credits to the rural areas.
Additionally, the official stated that the Bangladesh Bank has been prioritising lending through agent banking wings, especially in the rural areas so that the people in the low-cost fund can contribute to bolstering economic activities in those areas.
Since the issuance of guidelines in 2013, the central bank has issued agent banking licences to 28 banks. Of them, 27 are in operation.
In April 2021, the number of agent banking accounts reached 1.15 crore from 67.28 lakh a year ago.
Of the 1.1 crore accounts, 89.52 lakh accounts were opened in rural areas while the remaining 25.01 lakh accounts were opened in urban areas.
The number of agents of the banks rose to 12,462 in March 2021 from 8,429 in 2020.