Executive Director of Bangladesh Bank, Md. Khurshid Alam and the Policy Advisor of the a2i Programme, Anir Chowdhury, formally launched a new report on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on FinTechs in Bangladesh in a virtual webinar on Monday.
The report by MSC (MicroSave Consulting) is titled “COVID-19 and FinTechs in Bangladesh—Impact and Resilience” and was published with support from Visa, the global leader in digital payments, said a press release.
The report results from a study conducted by MSC and commissioned by Visa, on startups and FinTechs in Bangladesh. The study identified the impact of COVID-19 on FinTechs in the country. It further examined how they have coped so far and what is the nature of support they need to thrive in a post-pandemic world. Besides launching the report, the webinar also featured an interactive panel discussion titled “How we can support FinTechs and startups in this post-COVID world.” Soumya Basu, Country Manager, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan, Visa, moderated the panel discussion, which saw participation from the FinTech and startup industry.
MSC and Visa invited regulators and industry leaders from financial institutions, FinTechs, and startup ecosystem partners to a common platform to discuss issues in detail, and appreciate the perspective that each stakeholder has to offer. Panellists dived deep into the issues and appreciated the perspectives that each stakeholder had to offer. The partners hope the report will act as a guide and reference tool for the government, development partners, and practitioners in the startup ecosystem to support FinTechs effectively.
At the event, Executive Director of Bangladesh Bank, Md. Khurshid Alam observed, “Bangladesh Bank is responsible for maintaining harmony for everyone in the financial services ecosystem.” He added, “A regulatory facilitation office has been set up for sandbox testing to support the FinTechs and reduce financial risks. This sandbox is continuously testing new ideas and projects. It is focusing on innovation.”
Anir Chowdhury, Policy Advisor at a2i Programme, noted, “Most CMSMEs in Bangladesh lack a digital identity. If you are not digitally present, you are not visible. You do not get electronically available subsidies. There is a huge market for FinTechs to cater to CMSMEs that suffered this way.”
Anil Kumar Gupta, Partner at MSC, presented a summary of the report during his keynote speech. He spoke about the lessons from the pandemic, which “taught us that when the market undergoes a massive shift, especially in consumer preference and behaviour, FinTechs must adapt or find a way to pivot accordingly.”
The panel discussion on “How we can support FinTechs and startups in this post-COVID world” was held after the report’s launch. The panel consisted of Deputy General Manager of Payment Systems Department at Bangladesh Bank, Shah Zia-Ul Haque, President and Managing Director of Bank Asia, Md. Arfan Ali and Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer of ShopUp, Ataur Rahim Chowdhury.
While each panellist contributed their unique perspective to the discussion, the panel agreed on collaboration and strategic partnership as critical levers for FinTechs to thrive in a post-pandemic world. Moderator of the panel discussion, Soumya Basu summarized, “Bangladesh has a vibrant and thriving fintech ecosystem. It needs the support and empowerment from enablers like the government, regulators, networks like Visa and traditional banks to make a significant and lasting impact on the payments sector. We are hopeful that this report, launched today, will serve as an insightful catalyst and steer the right conversations to make FinTechs a powerhouse of innovation and scale.”