The Bangladesh Bank (BB) has recently taken a major step towards expanding financial access for everyone. After rolling out their “Guidelines to Establish a Digital Bank” on June 15, 2023, over 50 banks have already applied to roll out their very own digital banks. This is certainly exciting news because not only does it mean setting up digital banks in Bangladesh is a whole lot easier, but it also means that banks are taking charge and making moves!

What’s more, is that this move is very much in sync with what’s happening globally in banking and digital payments. It shows that the Bangladesh Bank is moving with the times and embracing new fintech and digital solutions. And no, they’re not just doing this for the heck of it! Bangladesh is now consciously strategising to help reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and make headway on the National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS).

In this article, we’ll delve into some of the key trends to keep an eye on as corporate digital banks begin to take shape in Bangladesh.

A quick glimpse at what has happened so far

So, here’s the scoop: Bangladesh Bank recently gave the green light to a set of guidelines for digital banks. Think of these guidelines as a sort of roadmap for banks that want to start their own digital banks. They outline all the specifics and requirements needed to get these banks up and running successfully. But why is this such a big deal, you ask?

Well, Bangladesh is on a mission to make banking more accessible, especially to those who live in underserved areas and communities. They want to bridge the gap in financial inclusion, and that’s where digital banks come into play. These banks are like the modern, tech-savvy versions of traditional banks. They use digital tools to make it easy for individuals and businesses to get their hands on a wide range of banking services.

But here’s the catch: just like regular banks, these digital banks must play by the rules. They have to get a licence and follow all the regulations set by the Bangladesh Bank. It’s all about making sure things run smoothly and safely.

What is the scope of digital banks in Bangladesh?

Digital banks have the power to provide all kinds of banking services and cool new digital financial products through several technological capabilities, such as

Wide Range of Services: Digital banks have the green light to provide a comprehensive suite of banking services, and they can get creative with new digital financial products. This means they can handle everything from basic savings and checking accounts to more innovative offerings you might not find at traditional banks.

Online and Tech-Centric: The key differentiator for digital banks is that they operate primarily online, harnessing advanced technology to facilitate their operations. Through web or mobile applications, you can manage your finances, conduct transactions, and access your account.

Collaboration over Competition: Digital banks have the flexibility to collaborate with existing financial institutions like traditional banks and mobile financial service providers. Instead of setting up their own physical branches or agents, they can tap into the networks of these established players. This collaboration approach allows them to extend their reach and serve customers more effectively.

Virtual Cards and QR Codes: Digital banks can issue virtual cards and QR codes for customers. Virtual cards work just like physical debit or credit cards but exist only in a digital format. QR codes are those square patterns you can scan with your smartphone, and they’re used for quick and secure transactions.

Special Licences: Some digital banks with an Authorised Dealer (AD) licence under the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act of 1947 have additional capabilities. They can engage in specific financial transactions and participate in pre-and post-financing schemes introduced by the Bangladesh Bank.

What to expect from Bangladesh in the coming years?

As digital banks take root, we can expect to see a surge in

Technology-Driven Innovation: Banks are likely to employ cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, and big data analytics to deliver efficient and personalised financial services to customers. The adoption of innovative solutions is expected to revolutionise how banking is conducted in the country.

Enhanced Customer Experience: Customer-centricity will be a defining feature of digital banks. With the help of advanced digital tools, these banks will start providing seamless, user-friendly experiences, from account setup to conducting transactions.

Financial Inclusion Expansion: Digital banks have a unique ability to extend banking services to previously underserved populations. As these institutions reach remote and marginalised areas, more people will gain access to banking services, including savings accounts, credit facilities, and insurance products, which can significantly improve their financial well-being.

Partnerships and Development of Digital Ecosystems: To expedite their growth and expand their service offerings, digital banks will continue forging partnerships with various players in the financial and technology sectors. Collaborations with fintech startups, payment processors, and e-commerce platforms will create a comprehensive financial ecosystem.

Regulatory Framework Evolvement: The regulatory landscape for digital banks will evolve as the sector matures. The Bangladesh Bank will adapt its rules and oversight mechanisms to ensure the safety and security of these new financial institutions. Striking the right balance between innovation and stability will be crucial.

To wrap things up, the initiation of digital banking in Bangladesh, under the guidance of the Bangladesh Bank’s well-structured framework, represents a significant turning point in the nation’s financial landscape.

The embrace of digital banking is not merely a technological upgrade; it’s a gateway to greater financial inclusion, convenience, and efficiency. Clayfin is at the forefront of this digital transformation. Get in touch to learn how we enabled BRAC Bank to take the first step by enabling QR transactions for their banking platform.

Subhranil Mazumdar

Subhranil Mazumdar has almost a decade of inside sales and account management expertise. He is Clayfin's Regional Sales Head for India and Southeast Asia. His commitment to helping clients grow their businesses and meet their goals and his broad knowledge of technical tools has resulted in multiple successful project executions.

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