Post and Telecommunication Minister Mustafa Jabbar on Saturday said Bangladesh is going to become a cashless country very soon due to the advancement in digital financial services.
He also urged the authority concerned to make services available to all by setting up an interoperability system in the shortest possible time.
"Bangladesh is going towards a cashless society as mobile handset is the most-used device in the country," the minister said while speaking at a webinar.
Telecom Reporters Network Bangladesh organised the webinar titled 'Disbursement of Government Allowances: Use of Mobile Phone Technology.'
Speaking on the occasion, Tanvir A Mishuk, managing director of Nagad, said they had to refund Tk 3 billion of government allowance benefits as the claimants were fake.
He said the government vision of digital Bangladesh and transparency will only come into reality with the digitalisation of the economy.
"For the first time in the country's history, we have a refund case of undisbursed government allowance by Nagad…false beneficiaries now can be identified and we have refunded more than Tk 3 billion to the Bangladesh Bank."
The central bank had to take time to process the refund as there was no such precedence, he added.
"Mobile Financial Services in the country started 12 years back, but disbursement of the public fund started with Nagad," he said, adding that Nagad went ahead with its vision despite having the hassle.
Social Welfare Minister Nuruzzaman Ahmed said the prime minister was committed to keeping the economy running during the Covid-19 pandemic.
"With her guidance, we have started disbursing social safety net fund digitally through companies like Nagad. And now genuine beneficiaries in remote areas are getting allowance hassle-free," he added.
Md Yusuf Ali, project director (additional secretary), Primary Education Stipend Project, said with Nagad transparency in fund disbursement was ensured due to the process upgrading.
"Earlier, we used to do digital fund transfer for such disbursement provided by the banks. But when Nagad came we had to move to electronic fund transfer (EFT), and that made all the difference. So, with EFT the fund now transfers via Bangladesh Bank and we can see the amount of actual disbursements," he explained.
Director-General of Social Services Department Sheikh Rafiqul Islam said,
"One of the key issues was beneficiaries' eligibility and how to reach them. In both cases, digitalisation helped and transparency is ensured now."
TIM Nurul Kabir, former director-general of Association of Mobile Operators Bangladesh said, "With the growth of MFS, digital inclusion had a big jump." "In technological advancement, there are always challenges, but it is very assuring to see that entrepreneurs are coming up with innovative solutions," he said.
Syed Almas Kabir, president of Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services, said MFSs are ensuring financial inclusion in a way that ensured transparency and lowered the government cost.
In the keynote presentation, TRNB general secretary Samir Kumar Dey said in the fiscal year 2021-22, the government allocation in the social safety net was Tk 1080 billion.
"MFSs are playing an important role in disbursing government fund to different sectors and Nagad is leading the way with disbursement of 75 percent of the allowances under the social safety net," he said.
TRNB president Rashed Mehdi also took part in the webinar.