Well mobile banking is an emerging concept, its a great concept, no doubt about it. There are several aspects of mobile banking in terms of implementation. Now I do not have any inside data on which model Grameenphone has proposed to operate, for the simplicity let's assume, by mobile banking, a Grameen subscriber will be able to deposit his money to his cellphone account, will be able to transfer it to another account and also will be able to withdraw money from his account.
There has been three models to do this mobile banking. I will discuss two here, one is that the mobile operator will itself become a financial institution which will be able to take deposits. This model is particularly suitable countries where most of the people do not have bank accounts or cannot afford to have one. Another model is based on bank accounts where mobile phone only acts as a medium.
As you may have already guessed, the second model is not suitable for our country since there are lot more mobile subscribers than bank account holders. In my case, I had my mobile phone before I had a bank account. And you can understand how many would use a bank account in the semi-urban or rural areas. Moreover, in our country, if you look at the government run banks, you will know that they are not equipped to provide information online, most of the information still resides there in paper. Another problem is that, to tie up with a mobile account, all bank must be taken under one system of accounting, otherwise the transaction between from one bank's account to another will be chaotic. So I think initially it will be difficult for GP to tie up with these banks and the alternative seems to be really easy.
Now the "financial express" has raised the concern that the banks will be losing the deposits - true, it will happen, but it will happen to the short-term deposits only, and we know how important is the short-term deposit for banks to operate the day to day transactions. So here is the problem, that banks will be losing these deposits once people will be used to the mobile banking. And honestly I don't think that is a problem, Grameenphone has taken a good initiative to bring the banking facility to the mass. Now it's time for the banks to take initiative to tie up the accounts with Grameenphone, and keep their account holders with them. Few regulations here can straighten up the things, like:
1) Grameenphone will keep the option open for the customer to choose, if the customer wants and his bank has developed certain supportive system for mobile banking, s/he may choose to associate his bank account with the mobile banking account. Grameenphone will not charge extra for this choice, however banks may charge for the mobile banking facility.
2) GP will not provide any interest for the money deposited. It will discourage the depositors to keep big amount of money for long time period in mobile account.
So what I am trying to say is that GP should not only be blamed, because this is a big opportunity for banks as well to expand their business, which they should utilize in a orderly manner. Thanks to the fellow blogger Mr. Ahmed Ali for bringing up this important issue, and kudos to GP for taking a good step. That should be my ending line.. Good Day.