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Gazi Yar Mohammed EVP, Head of MFS & Agent Banking, ONE Bank

OK Wallet, ONE Bank’s digital Wallet has been very well received by the customers. How has ONE Bank Limited (OBL) successfully differentiated its service from numerous competitors currently present in the market?

Well, Cash-in and cash-out transactions are dominant in MFS market. To stand out, we have focused on digital payment, covering online payment and offline payment. We have onboarded 6000 merchants, composed of chain retail stores, retailers, restaurants, rideshare startups, home appliance companies, electronics shops and e-commerce marketplaces for facilitating the payment by OK Wallet.

To drive our payment strategic plans, we are offering a couple of utility payment services like DESCO, DPDC, WASA, NESCO, NID Fee, Credit Card payment. OK wallet users can add money from agent points, ONE Bank branches and VISA and Master Cards. Users can withdraw cash from OBL ATMs, Branches and agent points. We emphasized the strategic alliance and teamed up with different marketplaces and rising startups named Pataho, Zantrik, Sheba where users of OK Wallet and these startups can take a diverse set of services paying by OK Wallet.
We are also coming up hotels booking, movie tickets and bus ticket booking services through the OK Wallet. We are also going to launch a digital savings scheme for OK wallet users soon that will offer to compete for digital customer experience and easy savings options.

Going forward into the new decade, how crucial is it for banks to adopt Digital Banking and Digital Financial Service (DFS) to keep up with the rest of the world? Can DFS solve access to finance problems as small and unbanked borrowers don’t get loans from banks?

Banking and DFS will keep thriving, and Fintech is riding on banks. Banks need to team up with fintech to offer competitive products. A lot of renowned contemporary banks launched parallel digital banks to win the hearts of millennial and bring them under the banking ecosystem. Sometimes, we assume internet banking as digital banking; digital banking is one-stop banking that you can do from a single mobile app – from savings account opening to loan application in minutes without visiting branches. Banks should shift the paradigm to create comprehensive solutions that demonstrably fix practical problems instead of product-centric pushes.

Coming to your next question, lending is thriving in different markets, and the digital loan is scalable and unbanked or underbanked people can avail digital loan through mobile phone. We are working on this to offer disruptive value pillars for consumers and quick access to finance. We have around 50 million millennial who can be game-changers. Banks need to come up with digital banks and digital lending. Only 1 million people use credit cards; this number is minimal compared to our working force size. Banks need to target millennial and rising middles class and offer different DFS focused services to reduce the cost and ensure the scalable business model. While our 3rd and 4th generation banks have an average customer base of 1 to 1.5 million, lot of digital banks have 3 to 4 million customers whom they onboarded in just 4 to 5 years. Without digital bank and DFS proposition, it will be challenging to increase in the customer base over the next decade.

Do the clients (customers) have a role to play in keeping their transactions and bank details safe?

Yes, customers have an essential role in keeping personal information and banking details safe. One Time Password (OTP) and PIN are the most critical data that must be handled with extreme caution. If customers share their OTP or PIN of Wallet and card number with CVV with anyone, it may jeopardize their financial accounts.

Agent Banking has proven to be a monetary masterstroke which has facilitated millions of Bangladeshis with formal banking services. But agent banking is focusing on deposits only and customers are not getting loans from agent banking? What is ONE Bank’s plan for agent banking?

Financial inclusion implies that irrespective of income level, all individuals, households and businesses must have access to financial services and products that address their needs. Agent banking plays a crucial role in financial inclusion.

Agent banking is growing at a rapid pace. The current customer base in the market reached 4 million, which is astounding and agent outlet base reached around 10,000. We launched agent banking in November 2019, and we are moving fast. We have soft-launched 17 outlets, and we aspire to reach 150 outlets by 2020. Beside deposit products, we are going to offer home loan products of small ticket size for our agent banking. Besides banking services, customers can pay for different utility services, avail remittance services, Passport fee, online to offline (O2O) and commerce services, among others.

Do you have any message for the young generation and aspiring bankers?

Passion, execution through skill and problem solving – these three things are much needed for our youth. The world is changing fast, big data, AI and Machine learning are changing business models of any business more quickly. They need to prepare themselves, and they can work on solving different points.
Fresh graduates who aspire to build a career in banks, it is an excellent industry filled with prospects. The best way to start a career in banking is to start as a management trainee. To become an MTO, they need to take comprehensive preparation and should have excellent analytical and communication skills.

Written by

Asif Siddique Tarafdar is the Staff Writer of Ice Today& Ice Business Times. He has completed BSS in Economics from BRAC University and vocal about disability rights and inclusion. Currently, studying MDS at Jahangirnagar University he is also a former Flight Cadet of the Bangladesh Air Force.