Bangladesh Bank suspends mobile banking to prevent 'vote buying' in city polls

Bangladesh Bank suspends mobile banking to prevent ‘vote buying’ in city polls


The Bangladesh Bank has ordered suspension of all financial transactions through mobile banking until 5pm Tuesday at the Election Commission’s ‘request’, a senior bank official says.However, the directive is not applicable for mobile phone talk-time recharge.A central bank circular on Monday asked mobile financial services-providing banks and their subsidiaries to follow the order.Fifteen types of services, including sending and receiving money by individuals, paying salaries and allowances, paying utility bills, are provided by the system.But mobile banking is mostly used for transactions among individuals.The EC made the ‘request’ fearing transactions at individual level will be used to ‘buy votes’.A Dhaka city polls candidate had made a similar demand at an interaction with the EC.However, contradictory orders from the central bank on mobile banking restrictions ahead of polls created confusions among the people on Monday.The first media statement, issued around noon, restricted financial transactions through mobile phones exceeding Tk 1,000 until Tuesday midnight.Several hours later, a second statement said all mobile banking transactions would be halted until 5pm Tuesday at the EC’s request.But the circular fanned the confusion as it did not mention anything about mobile talk-time recharge.Asked about the contradictory orders, the bank’s Payment Systems Department General Manager KM Abdul Wadood told, “At first, we fixed the highest ceiling of mobile financial transaction to Tk 1,000.“But the Election Commission later requested us to suspend all transactions.”He said the second statement was issued after that.“We issued the second directive in public interest,” Wadood said.“As a result, no financial transaction can be made through mobile banking until 5pm tomorrow.”When asked about the bank’s decision on the top-up, he clarified that they meant recharging phone credits through mobile banking.“That is, our first directive said talk-time exceeding Tk 1,000 cannot be bought using mobile banking accounts.“But our revised decision says this service, along with mobile banking, will be suspended until 5pm Tuesday,” he explained.Eighteen banks currently provide mobile banking services to over 10 million customers throughout Bangladesh.Daily transaction through mobile banking is about Tk 3 billion, according the central bank.


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