Saturday, June 22, 2024

BB launches digital map on financial services

The central bank has introduced a new tool with which both policymakers and consumers will be able to get information on the financial services available in different parts of the country.
Bangladesh Bank Governor Atiur Rahman yesterday launched the web portal, Digital Map of Financial Services in Bangladesh, at a function at the BB Training Academy.
This project was sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, facilitated by BB and Microcredit Regulatory Authority, and implemented by a specialist firm Brand Fusion who hired local data collectors to go around Bangladesh over a six-month period earlier this year.
The project geo-mapped the vast majority of places where people can access financial services, including banks, microfinance and post office branches, as well as savings, cooperatives and mobile money agents.
By clicking on FSPMaps.com, policymakers and people can receive information on what services are available in 65,534 branches and booths of banks and other financial institutions and financial service providers all over the country. Jake Kendall, program officer (Financial Services for the Poor) at the Gates Foundation, briefed on the project.
Hassan Zaman, chief economist at the BB, said the national level financial access map, first of its kind in Bangladesh, can be used by anyone with access to the internet. Users will be able to look at both national patterns and also zoom into a specific part of the country, he added.
Zaman said it can be used by regulators, financial service providers and consumers.
The BB governor said it is critical that this new financial mapping tool be used by the central bank and MRA in making balanced and sound policy and regulatory decisions. For example, BB staff can use this while giving bank branch permissions and in determining the appropriate numbers of branches, automated teller machines, agents and other points of service.
“It can also be used to direct greater efforts at financial inclusion in certain geographical areas of the country — for instance, it may be used to reward banks that have extended agricultural or SME credit in the more underserved areas,” said Rahman.
This new tool leverages the rapid evolution of digital technologies that will help the BB fulfil its dual goals of financial inclusion and sound performance, he added.
The central bank governor said the tool can also help in liquidity management. With an understanding of where liquidity issues are likely to manifest themselves, mobile money deployments can proactively build liquidity management infrastructure where it is needed most. He said this map will be updated regularly.
Zaman said while maps have existed for centuries so that people could travel from one place to another, maps are increasingly being used to make public policies and strategic decisions.
A microfinance organisation called Fair Finance in the UK that just won a prestigious award from the UK Prime Minister for its work on financial inclusion has a geographical map on their website that tracks where loans are going, said the BB chief economist.
He said this is an idea that perhaps can be replicated here by banks and microfinance institution on their own websites, as it will promote disclosure and transparency.

-With The Daily Star input

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