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Supporting SDGs through Digital Financial Models by Inclusive Business

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is the most important phrase in the sector of financial business.
How much development so far has happened and what the things are mostly needed through the digitalization are the focal views nowadays in world business including Bangladesh.

With the questions what are the digital financial models, their roles and impacts on sustainable development in the region and challenges for the governments to maximize their benefits, a seminar was held at Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel on 9th February 2017 in a two days program of “Asia-Pacific Business Forum- Regional Integration to Achieve Sustainable Development” organized by ICCB, Ministry of Commerce and United Nations ESCAP where so many leading personalities of Bangladesh and outside country were present to discuss with the issue.

Dr. Salehuddin Ahmed, Former Governor of Bangladesh Bank, was hosting the second session on ‘Supporting SDGs through Digital Financial Models by Inclusive Business’.

Experts at a program strained integrated efforts of all stakeholders to attain Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through digital financial models by inclusive business. The experts also insisted on the regulators to inflict balancing regulatory rules and regulations so that digital financial markets grow up to their full probable and regulation is also enforced in a balanced way.

What Are The Digital Financial Models?

Digital financial models or services have important potential to provide a range of affordable, convenient and secure financial or banking services to underprivileged people in developing countries. According to estimates, more than 400 million people are linked globally through basic mobile payments services, allowing them to send money, pay bills, or purchase prepaid electricity with greater ease, affordability and access.

Speaking as the chair, Mr. Salehuddin Ahmed said, “We have to see digitalization in a broader way. Technology, finance, banking, and inclusive business-everything has to be included in a model that can support SDGs”. He also said, “Security, confidentiality and transparency of financial markets are very important. The regulators must ensure those before approving any technology-led financial model”.

While giving the floor to speak about SDGs through digital financial services Mr. Arastoo Khan, Chairman of Islami Bank Bangladesh Ltd. said, “Mobile banking is very significant issue nowadays. But it couldn’t be implemented due to compliance issue though the bank took license for mobile banking a few years back. The bank was under the central bank’s radar for some reasons. We hope we would start mobile financial services soon after the central bank’s clearance.”

But What Are The Roles And Impacts On Sustainable Development In The Region?

Roles in this segment are the prominent prior undoubtedly. Whereas, impacts are somewhat good or somewhat still are in deplorable conditions. People need to be aware and come forward to implement their responsible roles in developing SDGs.

City Bank Managing Director and CEO Sohail R K Hussain commented, “We need the government support for overcoming regulatory barriers in some specific areas. I am urging to Bangladesh Bank for specific timeframe in resolving wrongful double transactions/payments to reduce time and money for the benefit of the end- users and to allow banks to outsource services to reduce banks’ operational expenditures”. He also requested the central bank to introduce E-signatures so that it can be helped in speeding up transactions.
Chair of ESBN Task Force on Digital Economy Barbara Meynert said, “Technology is not barrier for introducing digital or mobile financial services. The authority only needs intention to introduce the service. If policymakers do not want to leave anybody behind from development, they should start creating a cashless society”.

Kamal Quadir, CEO of bKash, said, “bKash as mobile financial services could help lessen remittance cost which is the crucial target of SDGs”.

So What Are The Challenges For The Governments To Maximize The Benefits?

It can be said that government alone cannot be the target holders to maximize the benefits for SDGs. In fact, it is the responsible to all to take challenges to extend the benefits for our own sake, for the sake of Bangladesh. Why the people of Bangladesh are lagged behind? Why poverty is still predominant in the way of the development of our inclusive business? We need to look into the problems carefully along with the government.

Muhammad A (Rumee) Ali, CEO of Bangladesh International Arbitration Centre, insisted on a grand alliance comprising government, regulators, banks, mobile operators and customers to decide on how to make a sustainable digital financial systems for all. He believed, “Poverty happens not for inclusion but for exclusion. Mobile financial services would ensure inclusion of excluded people, and thus it would contribute to reduction of poverty”.

So poverty is the impediment in this case. RobiAxiata Managing Director Mahtabuddin Ahmed while was given the floor, he started by raising a question. He said, “Why mobile operators wouldn’t get chances for making financial transaction directly with their clients? If these operators may get the opportunities to play a role to provide services in transactions, we will make our country developed and we may reach our expected SDGs.”

Dean of Asian Development Bank Institute DrNaoyuki, Board of Director of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (Asia) George Kam Ho Yuen, and CEO of Credit China FinTech Holding Limited Phang Yew Kiat also delivered their valuable speeches at the seminar.

As the principal aim of the 2017 Forum has been lay down as ‘Regional Integration to Achieve Sustainable Development”, the urges and speeches of these business leading personalities are justified enough. The two-day forum has provided a procedure to business organizations of the region to exchange views on the role of public and private institutions in achieving inclusive, flexible and sustainable development.


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