Saturday, 30 September, 2023

7.2pc women use mobile banking in Bangladesh

Around 7.2 percent of women are using bank accounts through mobile financial services (MFS) in the country, according to the World Bank and GSMA 2022.

Of them, 20 percent receive services directly or indirectly from SFS.

At the same time, according to BIDS and ADB 2021 data, women are not connected to 57.8 percent of SFS services.

Such information emerged on Sunday, June 4, 2023, at the Innovation and Development Associates (IDEA) Foundation's seminar titled Gender Dimension of Digital Financial Services (DFS) in Bangladesh, held in the Bangabandhu Military Museum’s Seminar Hall.

Kazi M. Aminul Islam, former alternate executive director of the World Bank, former secretary and former chairman of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA), and chairman of the IDEA Foundation, presided over the seminar in the presence of the chief guest,  Md. Hasanuzzaman Kallol, Secretary of the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs, and special guest  Snigdha Ali, Interim Senior Programme Officer and Gender Advisor, Bangladesh and Women’s Economic Empowerment Financial Services for the Poor, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The seminar further highlighted the proposal to fix and ensure a quota for women as agents of MFS in the country under the purview of the Bangladesh Bank. Moreover, there were also reports of incidents of audit objections, where the grant was received by a woman even though the MFS account was in the name of a man. The speakers requested that the government take such issues into consideration and create policies to monitor, govern, and resolve them.

The welcome speech was delivered by the secretary of IDEA Foundation and former senior secretary  Mohammad Shahidul Haque; an open discussion session was moderated by Md. Abul Kalam Azad, Vice Chairman of IDEA Foundation and former Principal Secretary and Chief Coordinator (SDG).

The speakers were the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Business Initiative Leading Development-Build, Ferdous Ara Begum and Dr. Sayema Haque Bidisha, Professor, Department of Economics, University of Dhaka. The summary was presented by IDEA Foundation’s senior Sociologist, Khondoker Shakhawat Ali.

The main article was presented by the senior researcher of IDEA Foundation, Dr. Monzur Hossain who stated that DFS was started in early 2010 and has created a revolution in financial inclusion. Women's access to MFS plays a catalytic role in reducing the gap between men and women in financial access. Socially, men in a family may have MFS accounts, but women do not. MFS is used to pay wages to workers in garment manufacturing (RMG) and other industries. DFS is gaining popularity despite many challenges. He also presented various statistics to support his statements.

Speaking at the occasion,  Md. Hasanuzzaman Kallol said, "The Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs has undertaken various projects in connection with the digital banking system and mobile banking system to build equality between men and women. Some projects have already been launched through which women are able to export products out of the country."

Snigdha Ali said, "Information obtained from the research is being used by several government and private stakeholders to help policymakers.”

The main objective of this joint initiative is to bring all the women workers from across the garment and tea industries, as well as household workers, under financial inclusion and move forward in building a digitised economy in accordance with the Smart Bangladesh vision. There are 9.5 million domestic workers in the country who also need to be brought into the mainstream audience through financial inclusion."