S M Kamal talking to The Bangladesh Monitor _Photo : Monitor
Dhaka : As government hopes to turn country into Digital Bangladesh, electronic payment or e-commerce in every sector has become imperative. Although the country is an important market for such technology-based payment systems, the area is still relatively untapped. There is ample scope to offer innovative payment services spearheaded, in particular, by mobile phones.
With the people becoming more techno-savvy, they are looking to complete shopping and other chores through electronic payment. Instead of cash purchase, electronic payment is easier, considering one does not need to carry the money.
MasterCard is playing an important role to make the e-commerce in the country more popular. It opened a local representative office in Dhaka in 2013, based on the potentiality of the market driven by the growing middle class.
"MasterCard opened its local representative office in Dhaka as part of its geographical expansion in South Asia," said Syed Mohammad Kamal, Country Manager, MasterCard Bangladesh, while talking to The Bangladesh Monitor.
"We are the first to set up a "full-face" office in Bangladesh," he added.
"Our geographical presence and market position have witnessed sustained growth and with the launching of our office in Bangladesh," said Kamal.
"The culture of shopping, using the credit is still not popular in our country. Though people use debit card, but they mostly use it to draw cash from the ATM booth, instead of going to the bank. Our aim is to connect people with e-commerce, showing them the easier path of an enriched life."
MasterCard has already opened a modern e-commerce payment gateway in Eastern Bank and South East Bank to make the e-commerce popular. It has been giving various offers during various festivals like Eids, Pujas, Valentine's Day, Independence Day, Victory Day, Pohela Boishakh and other festival days to attract people to e-commerce and thereby make it popular.
MasterCard gradually is forming a partnership with leading corporate houses of the Bangladesh to help people give smooth service, he said.
Apart from bringing in its global expertise in technology and payments processing to its local partners, one of MasterCard's key priorities in Bangladesh would be financial inclusion, i.e., the delivery of financial services at affordable costs to the unbanked segment of the society, said the Country Manager.
While 55 per cent of adult population in Bangladesh has some access to financial services, largely because of micro-finance solutions, only 22 per cent is fully banked, he said quoting a private estimate.
By working with key local financial institutions, MasterCard looks forward to bring in safe and convenient payment services to meet the needs of the financially underserved in Bangladesh, he added.
"MasterCard is working more closely with the local partners to implement world-class payment solutions as well as help develop the local industry," he added.
"These days people tend to eat-out a lot and shopping has become a mode of recreation. Sometimes MasterCard arranged some campaign for our cardholders. Through this campaign our cardholders get the opportunity to avail these offers at a number of restaurants and lifestyle outlets across all major cities."
We want our cardholders to avail these lucrative discounts and we are equally confident that this will go a long way in promoting electronic payments in the country," Kamal said.
In addition, MasterCard has premium benefit programmes that offer consumers discounts on shopping as well as savings on travel. MasterCard features its World MasterCard and World Elite MasterCard programmes. For example, MasterCard's World Elite programme offers its Luxury Hotels and Resorts programme that features similar perks to travellers.
Bangladesh is the third most optimistic market in the Asia Pacific, thanks to consumers' positive outlook on stock market, jobs and income, according to Kamal.
Across the Asia Pacific, overall consumer confidence stays buoyed in optimistic territory at 66.9 points, a slight improvement from 62.7 points six months ago.
The new move will make life easier for about eight million Bangladeshis living abroad by helping them send money to their beneficiaries in Bangladesh with ease, Kamal said.
"We have agreements with top of banks in Bangladesh like_ Premier Bank, BRAC Bank, Dutch Bangla Bank, The City Bank, Standard Charted Bank, EBL, National Bank, Prime Bank, Mutual Trust Bank, Southeast Bank, Pubali Bank, Bank Asia, Social Islami Bank, Al Arafah Bank, AB Bank, Dhaka Bank, UCB Bank , NCC Bank and LankaBangla," he added.
In the first half of 2017, the country's score in the index rose 6.6 points to 89.4, compared to the second half of 2016. With the increase, Bangladesh moved further into the 'very optimistic' territory, with improvement in all five components that made up the index.
Bangladesh saw the biggest jump in the stock market sub-index, as its point rose to 74.9 in the first half of 2017 from 59.9 in the second half of 2016.
The outlook on the quality of life improved by 3.9 points to 91.4 while outlook on the economy rose 0.1 points to 91.3 in the first half of 2017 compared to the second half last year.
"We have plan for ensure the security to launch e-wallet. We are working on financial inclusion and innovation. We have done financial literacy to women empowerment," Syed Mohammad Kamal cpncluded.