A new rule requiring customers to obtain a certificate before completing a transaction online is causing people a lot of grief with businessmen in the IT sector suffering in particular.
Bangladesh Bank (BB) issued the circular last week according to which, customers must seek authorisation to make online purchases using foreign currency by filling up a form and submitting it to their respective banks.
The measure was adopted to prevent the purchase of cryptocurrency online, lottery tickets, gambling and misuse of the international credit card, according to the central bank, reports bdnews24.com.
But bankers and customers have slated the rule as 'impractical' and time-consuming while increasing the costs of transaction for all concerned. The authorities should have discussed the issue with banks issuing the rule, they added.
"The decision is not practical at all," said Mutual Trust Bank Managing Director Anis A Khan.
Bangladesh Consultant is a company that provides domain and hosting services and develop websites for its customers.
"We have to buy themes regularly for the domain and hosting services using an international credit card," said Baki Billah, director of Bangladesh Consultant to the agency.
"We have stopped providing the service to our customers due to the new rule. It is practically impossible to fill up the form and submit it to the bank for each transaction.
"The new circular by the central bank is hampering our business," said Mushfiqur Rahman, Managing Partner of Spectrum Software and Consulting Limited.
"We need to buy toolkit worth $500 to $1000 frequently for the software we use. Sometimes we buy them thrice a day."
Besides, the international credit card is needed to make immediate transactions, he said.
The government has permitted members of Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS) to spend up to $30,000 per year but the business will now be affected by the circular, said Mushfiqur, vice president of BASIS.
A customer has to fill up the online transaction form or OTF and submit it either through a mobile app, an internet platform or as a hard copy before purchasing goods or services online using an international credit card, according to the circular issued by the foreign currency policy department of Bangladesh Bank.
The respective bank will then scrutinise the form and activate the credit card if no irregularity is found. The credit card will be deactivated automatically once the transaction is complete.
The technical part to connect OTF submission system to the mobile app and internet require time. The banks could not prepare them for it as there was no prior directive for them. Therefore, the online transaction using international credit card suddenly turned manual from digital.
“We’ve stopped transaction from the day we received the circular. The customers have to fill the form before a transaction. We couldn’t upload the form to our website as yet,” said Dhaka Bank Managing Director Syed Mahbubur Rahman.
“Our customers are facing a lot of difficulties and are dissatisfied,” he said, adding that the stringent measure could boost money laundering.
“People used to do their necessary transactions before the international credit card arrived on the scene. Now they may opt to pay through ‘hundi’ or informal money transfer systems, depriving the government of the revenue. They should keep it in mind.”
The new rule will reduce the misuse of credit cards as customers now have to apply for approval before making a foreign transaction, said Bank Asia's Managing Director Arfan Ali.
“But clients will face delays in receiving the service. The application process could prevent them from meeting their immediate needs.”
The central bank has called bank executives and BASIS representatives in for a meeting on Monday to iron out the issues relating to the rule, said Bangladesh Bank's Deputy Director Nasim Uddin.
“We came to know that people were buying cryptocurrency using international credit cards. Also the cards were used for illegal acts like gambling and buying lottery tickets. We took the measure to prevent this misuse,” said he.
“We are working on the issue and hope to resolve it by next week,” said Mushfiqur.