Bangladesh Post Office, in its bid to rejuvenate its business, has yesterday launched trial run of the long-awaited mobile banking service in three hubs in the capital.
The new service touted Post e-Pay would provide a range of financial services, including money transfer, bill payments, cash deposits and withdrawals. The users would be able to check their transaction information and balance too.
Post and telecom Minister Sahara Khatun inaugurated the commercial test service yesterday at the GPO in the capital. Initially, the service has been made available in three post offices in Dhaka — GPO, Sadarghat and Banani.
The post office is implementing the service jointly with the technical support of fixed phone operator Bangla Phone and Commlink Infotech Ltd, a sister concern of Bangla Phone.
Managing Director Amjad H Khan of Bangla Phone said the customers would have to register with their particulars at post offices, where Post e-Pay has been launched.
A photo ID such as national ID or copy of the passport would be required, while finger print and photo would be kept by the post office agents, he said.
Customers would have to have an internet enabled mobile phone to get the service. The post office was also trying to get support from mobile operators so that customers could use very basic mobile phones as well, Amjad said.
However, the customers would have to go to the post offices to deposit or withdraw cash.
The post office would charge Tk 3 for every transaction while it would take Tk 5 for cash withdrawals.
Amjad said the service would be launched in seven divisional headquarters very soon and Bangla Phone would bear all expenses during that period.
In phases, around 10,000 post offices would have the service and another 100,000 agents would be employed.
Bangla Phone is providing financial support to the post office.
Amjad said, “The service is essentially a payment gateway where mobile phones will be used as wallets.”
He said from now on post offices would provide services such as direct deposit of payroll, all types of financial transactions, balance transfer, salary transfer, insurance premium payment, all kinds of utility bill payments and any other payments.
The utility service providers would have to sign an agreement with the post office to get the service, he said.
The agents of the post office would be given â€œBangla Padâ€, a hand-held tablet computer to provide people with services.
The local IT experts have developed the entire solution of Post e-Pay, said Amjad.
The ambitious project would cost around Tk 300 crore, he said.
Director General Nayeb Delwar Hussain of Bangladesh Post Office said all upazila post offices would have the Post e-Pay service after its successful operation in seven divisional headquarters.
The post office would split the profits with Bangla Phone in the first three years by 42:58 percent. The ratio would be 56:44 in the post office’s favour after the first three years.
He said early next year, the post office would start a new service for the expatriates by signing an agreement with the Malaysian government.
The employees of the post office would be trained so that they could provide people the services smartly. Only technology-friendly services could help the postal department survive, claimed Abubakar Siddique, the telecom secretary.
Minister Sahara Khatun yesterday said the post office would have to compete with private banks which have very interesting offers to get its customers.
If the officials of the postal department work hard they would be able to provide the services, she said.
The service was supposed to be launched last year but it did not happen due to red tapism.
Two private banks — Brac Bank and Dutch-Bangla Bank Ltd — are providing financial services via mobile phones in the country with the help of carriers. They have 18 lakh registered customers, according to central bank officials.