The number of internet banking users has doubled, and transactions tripled in the last two years on the back of pandemic-related restrictions on movement that forced people to do everything online, from shopping to banking.
Although the pandemic situation has eased and the economy is fully operational, the number of customers and transactions is increasing.
According to the central bank, in February this year, the number of Internet banking customers increased to 46.99 lakh from 33.13 lakh in the same month of 2021, with customer growth of 41.84% in one year.
In February 2020, the number of users was only 26.05 lakh and the number of customers has increased about 21 lakh in two years.
Not only customers but also transactions have increased. In February this year, transaction volume stood at Tk17,763 crore compared to Tk8,477 crore in February of 2021. In one year, transaction volume has more than doubled.
February 2020 saw a transaction volume of Tk6,299 crore, that is, one-third the transaction volume in February this year.
In early 2004, AB Bank, Dutch-Bangla Bank, and Dhaka Bank introduced checking account balances online with internet banking. Gradually other benefits have been added.
At present, there are various facilities such as balance transfer from one bank to another, payment of various fees, payment of hotel and restaurant bills, bus, train and plane ticketing, and cash transfers to various accounts using mobile financial services (MFS).
According to a recent study by the UN-led Better Than Cash Alliance and a2i, digital payment systems have the potential of increasing gross domestic product (GDP) by 1.7%, or more than Tk50,000 crore.
At the same time, to make internet banking easier, all bank branches of the country have now come online. According to the central bank, online facilities were launched by all 10,941 branches of various banks in the country last February.
In February 2020, 92% of the branches were already online.
The central bank has also played a role in the expansion of internet banking by revising policy. In September last year, it increased the maximum limit for internet banking transactions.
The daily transaction limit of a customer has been increased from Tk2 lakh to Tk5 lakh. At the same time, the limit of a single transaction has been increased from Tk50,000 to Tk1 lakh. The maximum daily transactions for a customer have also been increased from five to 10.
Complaints about online NPSB transactions
The National Payment Switch Bangladesh (NPSB) is a popular way to transfer money from one bank to another online. This facility is provided to customers by the Bangladesh Bank as an intermediary.
Usually, when a customer transfers a balance online by NPSB, it reaches the recipient's account within a short time. However, many have complained that it is embarrassing and awkward to avail this benefit.
Customers report that when a balance transfer is executed, the money is deducted from the sender's account even if it sometimes does not reach the customer's account. In most cases, the money is returned to the sender's account within one to three days. However, several customers complained they had to wait a week to a month to get their money back.
There have been a number of such complaints from customers on Facebook groups concerning internet banking. They demanded that measures be taken to reduce customer suffering.
"Since online money transfers are performed by technology, this can once in a while lead to some sort of transaction failure," Md Arfan Ali, president and managing director at Bank Asia, told The Business Standard.
He said these factors also depend on the system operated by the Bangladesh Bank. However, it is the responsibility of banks to properly maintain Application Programming Interface (API) connectivity with them.
"This could reduce the incidence of transaction failures. However, the Bangladesh Bank has to be proactive as well in tackling the problem of refunds," he added.