Government policies have enabled small and medium-size enterprises and supported women entrepreneurs, said Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Antoinette M Sayeh.
"And benefits have accrued not just to those in urban areas; the agricultural and rural sectors have also advanced thanks to policies, such as floors on credit, which are backed by refinancing lines on concessional terms," she added during her speech at a discussion on fintech and financial inclusion organised by IMF.
She also said, in Bangladesh, financial inclusion has been a decades-long journey to include segments of the population that previously had limited access to formal finance. This journey, which first began with microcredit, has since evolved to cover all aspects of financial inclusion—from access, to usage, and to quality.
Today, the use of mobile phones for financial transactions is commonplace in Bangladesh. People are accustomed to digital financial services, agent banking, branchless banking, and mobile money, she continued.
"Of course, more work needs to be done to maintain this momentum, to expand access even more and to bridge the gender gaps that persist. But I must commend the Bangladeshi authorities for the rich policy tapestry laid out in their latest financial inclusion strategy, which covers important aspects such as credit growth in priority sectors, MSME financing, gender priority, access to finance in rural areas, and green financing," said the IMF official.
Bangladesh has invested significantly in digital infrastructure and many new companies have emerged, building on that infrastructure, about which you will be hearing more in the course of this seminar.
Continued emphasis in areas such as credit bureaus, asset registration, payment systems, and micro-finance institutions will further reduce the cost of financial services. For achieving some of these, collaborating with the private sector will be important but striking the right balance between encouraging innovation and ensuring financial stability remains vital.