Agent banking, that takes banking services to the unbanked people, is gaining popularity among depositors, borrowers and diaspora Bangladeshis.
The concept of agent banking is to appoint an agent, by commercial banks, with small booths in areas where conventional banking service is not available.
As of September this year, deposit collection through the agent banking channel was Tk6,169 crore, up from Tk2,013 crore in the same period a year earlier.
At the same time, the amount of loan disbursement stood at Tk306 crore, up from Tk137 crore in the same period a year ago, according to Bangladesh Bank data.
Besides, remittance sent through agent banking was Tk11,937crore, up from Tk3,514crore a year ago.
“Agent banking is growing robustly owing to its cost-effectiveness and availability. Beside deposit collection, lending through agent banking also are increasing, which is good for rural economy,” said Md Arfan Ali, managing director of Bank Asia.
He said Now Bank Asia was enjoying 75.85% share of the total loan disbursement through agent banking.
“We are disbursing 25% as a loan of the total deposit. We will increase it to 100% by 2021,” he added.
In future, banks would disburse SME loan, agriculture loan and micro credit through agent banking, said Md Arfan Ali, a pioneer of agent banking.
As of September, the number of agents increased by 82.02% to 6,431, up from 3,588 in the same period a year ago.
The number of outlets increased by 75.50% to 9,391, up from 5351 a year earlier.
On the other hand, agent banking account rose by 123.04% to 3,964,346 up from 1,777,400 a year ago, according to Bangladesh Bank data.
19 banks have so far commenced agent banking services, but only eight gave out loans.
The central bank issued the agent banking guideline in 2013 but most banks failed to start full-fledged operations.
“Agent banking started with focus on deposit collection. But now the central bank has already started programs encouraging banks to go for loan disbursements to boost rural economy,” said Md Anwarul Islam, general manager of Bangladesh Bank.
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, United Commercial Bank, The City Bank, AB Bank, Islami Bank Bangladesh, The Premier Bank, NRB Bank, BRAC Bank and Eastern Bank have commenced agent banking services.