Bangladesh Bank (BB) has issued a new guideline titled ‘Prudential Guidelines for Agent Banking Operation in Bangladesh’ aimed at taking the banking services to the doorsteps of the people, reports BSS.
The central bank on Monday in a circular asked all banks to establish agents as channels for delivering banking services in cost effective manner and increase outreach of the banking services and promote financial inclusion within a safe and sound financial system environment.
BB also instructed the banks to outline activities which can be carried out by an agent as well as provide a framework for offering branchless banking services and serve as a set of minimum standards of data and network security, customer protection and risk management to be adhered to the branchless banking services.
Banks willing to offer banking services through agent banking operation shall obtain prior approval from the central bank, according to the guideline.
"Banks also have to take prior approval for new agents and agent banking outlets separately. Banks shall ensure that all policies and procedures relating to its agent banking activity are in place," the guideline added.
BB said the banks having license for Islamic Shariah based banking services will be allowed to provide Islamic Shariah based banking services through their agent network.
BB will assess the bank's overall performance as well as specific performance, valuate the bank's capacity to conduct agent banking, financial inclusion priorities and do due diligence before giving the approval. Banks shall commence its agent banking operation within three months of getting approval from the central bank. BB, considering the application of the bank, if any, may extend the commencement time for another three months.
Banks shall notify commencement of services to Banking Regulation and Policy Department (BRPD) and Financial Inclusion Department (FID) of the central bank.
Banks intending to start agent banking operation shall conduct a prior study and shall apply for approval to general manager, Banking Regulation and Policy Department (BRPD), Bangladesh Bank, Head Office, Dhaka in its letter head pad.
While applying for approval of new agents and or agent banking outlets, banks shall furnish data about the proposed agents or outlets, on business performance and expansion plans on agent banking and facts describing the status of compliance of the instructions of these guidelines.
BB also advised the banks to follow the guideline for running agent banking services across the country.