Pandemic boon for digital banking

People are feeling comfortable in FinTech based-banking services instead of visiting bank branches as both infection and death rates are on the rise amid the second wave of Covid-19 in the country.

The amount of online banking transactions in term of volume exceeded Tk 8,000 crore in February this year for the fourth consecutive month, according to the latest data of Bangladesh Bank (BB).

"Transactions in term of volume through internet banking in February this year stood at Tk 8,477.03 crore," said the central bank in its monthly transactions report recently.

The volume of transactions in internet banking also exceeded Tk 8,000 crore in November 2020. The transaction amount in that month stood at 8,188.09 crore.

In the previous month of October, 2020, the transaction volume was 6,286.07 crore.

In December, 2020, the transaction amount stood at 8,092.06 crore while the volume in January this year was Tk 8,543.04.

In December 2019, the transactions through internet banking were Tk 6,063 crore, according to the central bank.

Bankers have said that although internet banking has been slowly gaining popularity in recent times, it has become more widespread due to the pandemic that has forced people to stay at home.

Since the corona crisis began in Bangladesh in March 2020, people have tried to adhere to maintain 'social distancing' as well as refrain from visiting bank branches for carrying out banking activities including financial transactions.

"Internet banking is increasingly becoming popular especially after the outbreak of coronavirus because clients are able to complete financial transactions sitting at home safely without facing any risk of corona infections," said BB's executive director and chief spokesperson Serajul Islam.

With the raise in digital banking, the number of ATMs, POSs, CDMs, and CRMs has also been increased across the country over the last couple of years.

As the importance of internet banking increases, the number of clients is also increasing. During the last 14 months, the number of internet banking customers has increased by 36.82 percent or 9.1 lakh.

Internet banking subscribers were increased from 24.72 percent in December 2019 to 33.82 percent in February 2021.

According to BB, the number of ATM (automated-teller machine) booths swelled to 12,111 in February this year, posting a 10 per cent growth compared to a year ago. In February, 2020, the total number of the ATMs of the commercial banks and financial institution was 11,002, according to BB data.

The number of ATM booths in rural areas till February 2021 was 3,582, which is 30 per cent of the total 12,111 booths across the country.

There were 1,574 CDMs (cash deposit machines) across the country till February 2021. The number of CDMs was 1,408 during the same period in 2020, while it was 1,341 in February 2019.

Similarly, the banks and financial institutions had also installed 778 CRMs (cash recycling machines) till February this year.

In February 2020, the number of CRMs was only 264 across the country.