Nagad, Bangladesh’s fastest-growing Mobile Financial Service (MFS) provider, is still running without a license from the Bangladesh Bank, even two years after its inception, putting its 3.8 crore registered customers at risk.
Nagad, which is managed by Third Wave Technologies Limited and is owned by the Bangladesh Post Office, has been branding itself as a state-run MFS provider since its launch on March 26, 2019. However, the government has no interest in it.
Sigma Group has a majority stake in, Nagad provides services through an MFS agreement with the Bangladesh Post Office, which the Bangladesh Bank does not consider sufficient for obtaining a license.
According to the Bangladesh Bank’s MFS guidelines, the Bangladesh Post Office needs at least 51% ownership of Nagad to obtain an MFS license.
The Bangladesh Post Office has been unable to apply for a license in the last two years since the shareholding process has not been completed.
Though its customer base and market share are rapidly expanding, Nagad’s transactions remain unregulated, putting customers at risk, according to a senior central bank executive.
Nagad gained more than 30% market share in its two-year trip, but no one knows whether it complies with MFS rules because the Bangladesh Bank does not monitor it.
The Managing Director Tanvir Ahmed Mishuk explained the ownership issue by saying the venture began with the Bangladesh Post Office under a revenue-sharing model.
Now it can only share revenue with the government under this model. However, to obtain a license from the Bangladesh Bank, they must now follow the MFS shareholding model.
At the time, the postal department owns 100 percent of it’s stock.
According to Tanvir A Mishuk, under a proposed new ownership structure, private companies would collectively own 49 percent of Nagad’s shares, with the rest controlled by the postal department.
Nagad gained popularity by being the second-largest digital money transaction channel after BKash, with daily transactions totaling Tk400 crore. but since it lacks a license, the transaction value is not reflected in the Bangladesh Bank’s total MFS statistics.
The company received a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the central bank in March of last year, allowing it to apply for a final license after adhering to all rules and regulations.
However, because the operator failed to complete all of the processes, the central bank was obliged to extend the NOC’s time frame by three months. Nagad has been given until June to complete the processes.
Mishuk stated that the government was currently amending the Post Office Act of 1898 to acquire 51% of Nagad Ltd’s shares. He expressed hope that Nagad would be able to complete the approval within the central bank’s most recent deadline.
Mehjabin Zaman Mahee
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