Experts for removing monopoly in mobile financial service industry


DHAKA, May 8, 2021 (BSS) – Experts today in a webinar laid emphasis on ensuring healthy competition in the country’s mobile financial service (MFS) industry instead of monopoly business for the greater benefit of both the users and the operators.

The webinar titled “Competition and Partnership in MFS Industry” was organized by Telecom Reporters’ Network Bangladesh (TRNB).

Speaking on the occasion as chief guest, Posts and Telecommunications Minister Mustafa Jabbar said none should allow any barrier that hinders the competition and helps to create monsters in the MFS industry.

“It’s the responsibility of the regulator to look after the matter so none should act like a monster in the MFS industry, which we’ve resisted in the telecommunication sector,” he said.

The minister said the regulators should prevent any growth of upcoming monsters in any field for the betterment of users and operators.

“Lack of interoperability is a huge bottleneck of this (MFS) industry which is creating obstacles to further growth of this industry,” he said, adding, “If banks can enjoy inter-operability then why is MFS being barred from enjoying it?”

The telecom minister also recommends withdrawing the restriction on the daily transaction limit at Taka 25,000, saying does it mean that Bangladesh Bank wants to force people to go bank?.

“We should welcome the cashless transaction and cryptocurrency is a reality that we should consider in the coming days,” he noted.

Pointing to the Bangladesh Competition Commission, Jabbar said they shouldn’t wait for any official complaint rather the commission should take action proactively if any activity of breaching the actual competition of this field is found.

The minister also praised Nagad, a state-owned MFS carrier, for creating buzz in the mobile financial service industry.

Emphasizing on the importance of market competition, Bangladesh Competition Commission (BCC) Chairperson Md Mofizul Islam said market will not be sustainable if true completion is ensured.

“Though we yet to receive any complaint from the customers or from others in MFS industry, but it’s our earnest responsibility to sit together with Bangladesh Bank and Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission as there are huge cross cutting issues in between us about MFS,” said Islam.

He said they have written to Bangladesh Bank one year ago to know the actual scenarios of MFS industry but yet to get any such reply from them on it.

Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC) Chairman Shyam Sunder Sikder said there was a monopoly in the MFS industry, but Nagad is the first carrier that breaks the monopoly.

“It is still not an even market so regulations like significant market power are needed,” he opied.

Abul Kashem Md Shirin, managing director of Dutch Bangla Bank which is the parent organization of the country’s first MFS carrier, Rocket said majority of the pricing for the service is eaten up by agents.

“Agents are beneficial in so many ways as it’s not their primary business and only the regular users are being affected,” he said.

Tanvir A Mishuk, co-founder and managing director of Nagad, the second largest MFS carrier, said a fair competition will only help the end user.

“Two years back when we started there was an untold monopoly in the market, but we have reduced the cash-out or send-money charge,” he said, adding, “high charges made the sector stagnant, but scenarios are being changed following the innovative approaches of Nagad.”

He urged all to look forward to have fair market situation for the benefit of the users and the society.

Mizanur Rashid, Chief Commercial Officer at bKash, said the government should take any decision based on win-win situation for all.

Supreme Court’s lawyer Barrister M Iftekhar Jonaed said the competition commission has the lawful capacity to intervene in the sector to omit monopoly situation.

“One of the tasks of the competition commission is to stop the ways of receiving undue advantage by any organization following their monopolistic market share,” he said.

In the keynote, TRNB general secretary Samir Kumar Dey said currently there is an uneven market competition existing in the MFS service, as an operator is holding majority market share and that is why cash-out or bill-pay charge is not reducing at user level.
He stressed for introducing significant market power by the regulators to ensure fair competition in MFS industry.

TRNB President Rased Mehdi presided over the webinar where former Deputy Governor of Bangladesh Bank Md. Abul Quasem, managing director and Chief Executive Officer of Robi Mahtab Uddin Ahmed, BIBM associate professor Md Mahbubur Rahman Alam and DGM of payment system department at Bangladesh Bank Muhammad Badiuzzaman Dider, among others, also spoke.