Supported by MetLife Foundation, MicroSave flagged off the i3 program in Bangladesh, at a country launch event in the city. More than 100 industry experts, from regulators to bankers and micro-finance institutions leaders, mobile financial service providers to FinTech entrepreneurs attended the launch event. The honorable Minister of Post, Telecommunication and Information Technology, Mustafa Jabbar graced the occasion as the Chief Guest. Syed Almas Kabir, President of BASIS, and Syed Hammadul Karim, General Manager – Bangladesh of MetLife, were also present as special guests. MicroSave shared the existing initiatives under the i3 program in Bangladesh. Industry expertsalso engaged in active discussion to identify possible opportunities,using technology, to contribute to the financial inclusion agenda in Bangladesh..
The i3 program stands for Innovate, Implement, Impact, and aims to continue meaningful financial inclusion to Bangladesh. The initiative seeks to utilize digital technology and uncover the needs, aspirations, and behaviors of low- and moderate-income (LMI) people and make a direct impact on the LMI segment with better designed products and services. MetLife Foundation has funded this 36-month initiative under its “Leveraging Technology for Meaningful Financial Inclusion in Bangladesh, China, Malaysia & Vietnam” program. The program is implemented in Bangladesh and Vietnam by MicroSave and in China and Malaysia by UNCDF. The program in Bangladesh is first off the block.
While efforts in poverty reduction to date have been extraordinary, Bangladesh still faces daunting challenges with 51 million people living below the poverty line. Basic access to banking services and products remain a challenge in Bangladesh. However, the government has shown firm commitment through conducive policies that aim to advancefinancial inclusion.The program hopes to make a difference to at least 250,000 underserved low and moderate income population and indirectly benefit 2 million across Bangladesh.
Speaking at the event,honorable Minister, Mr.Jabbar said: “…”
Mr. Karim,General Manager – Bangladesh, MetLife said: “Bangladesh is looking for innovative solutions to address the challenge of financial health for low income Bangladeshis.I am proud to say that at MetLife Foundation we are very well aligned with Bangladesh government’s priority of improving financial health of low to moderate income people. The i3 program which focusses on digital transformation is a brilliant example of that.We hope to create a positive impact on lives of 2 million people in Bangladesh through this initiative.”
Introducing MicroSave’s initiatives under the i3 program, Mr.Manoj Sharma, Regional Director, Asia, MicroSave, gave a keynote presentation at the launch. He said, “Bangladesh is a leader in mobile financial services. However, basic access to banking services and products still remains a challenge. At the i3 program, MicroSaveis trying to bridge the gap between the low-and moderate-income segment and basic financial services. We believe technology is a driver towards uptake of meaningful financial inclusion. Financial service providers and FinTechs can leverage technology to reach the 50% population who do not own account at any financial institution.”
With the rapid adoption of mobile phones in the country, mobile financial services(MFS) has experienced significant growth in the number of users as well as agents that provide mobile money services. However, the MFS market in Bangladesh is yet to move beyond basic transactions, such as cash-in, cash-out, and payments – many of which are conducted over-the-counter. FinTech players in Bangladesh are coming of age and will play a huge role to address the key constraints that hold back financial inclusion and to facilitate the integration of underserved segments into the formal financial services sector. Through the i3 program, MicroSavewill partner with Banks, MFS providers, FinTechs and other financial service providers, who are willing to leverage technology to travel that extra mile to make an impact to the financially excluded and underserved of Bangladesh.
A panel discussion was held towards the end of the program in which industry leaders and officials from regulators, banks, MFS providers, FinTechs and donors discussed onhow to leverage technology for meaningful financial inclusion in Bangladesh.