August 8, 2022, 12:35 am

Staff Correspondent

2022-08-01 17:19:34 BdST

Even rough weather couldn’t halt Nagad disbursing allowances in coastal part

During the summer, the sea turns tumultuous. Even fishermen are likewise hesitant to set sail in that weather. But at that time, several staff of Nagad, a disruptive mobile financial service carrier of Bangladesh, traveled to the remote island Rangabali under Patukhali to open Nagad accounts for the residents.

The enthusiasm for Nagad employees voyaging across the raging sea was to ensure the disbursement of government allowances among the struggling, vulnerable, and less educated communities residing in these remote locations.

During this adversity, it was these individuals who triumphed against nature and gave the touch of digitization to the remote island residents.

Sheikh Rafiqul Islam, the departing Director General of the Social Services Department, recalled the efforts of Nagad with gratitude recently.

He expressed his satisfaction with Nagad's efficiency in distributing allowances during the past few years.

He believes, Nagad is capable of distributing entire government allowances, if given the task.

Since its inception, Nagad, a mobile financial service arm of the Bangladesh Post Office, has been involved with several government allowances distribution projects.

The mobile money carrier is also disbursing 75 percent of the government’s social safety net payouts, which were earlier distributed through banks. As bank branches are very few in rural areas it was difficult for the beneficiaries to get the cash in their hand.

“In the past, allowances were distributed manually,” said Rafiqul Islam, who was leading from the front to run the digitalization show.

The payments are given to rural residents who are elderly, helpless, and uneducated as Islam said, “Earlier, they had to travel 10 to 15 Km to collect this sum. To ease this pain, the government wanted individuals to be able to get their money sitting at home. This was the primary objective, from which the concept of digitization was derived.”

Government allowances are distributed by the Department of Social Service to the elderly, widows, underprivileged disabled, and disabled students and essentially, only the most underprivileged people in society.

Rafiqul Islam expressed his delight with the inclusion of these marginalized individuals in digital services.

He stated, "We have worked with a group of society's least educated and most disadvantaged individuals. And Nagad has played excellently to upgrade their life to a digital space.”

According to Islam 30 to 40 percent of this segment is unable to use mobile phones correctly; their fingers are so stiff that they cannot even press the cellphone buttons. OTP or PIN keys, they do not have any idea. For these individuals, accessing or transacting money through mobile financial services was the biggest challenge. This was accomplished, and Nagad was instrumental in overcoming this obstacle” he added.

“Providing allowances in such regions posed the most difficulty. I shall discuss the case in Rangabali of Patuakhali. A portion of our allowance was distributed in the summer. The sea was turbulent, with terrible waves. At that time, in Rangabali and Kutubdia, the employees of Nagad crossed the stormy sea during the month of May and eased the process of distribution. It deserves appreciation."

Rafiqul Islam has the gut feeling that Nagad has the capability to distribute 100 percent of government allowances if given the responsibility.

He found Nagad's seamless and transparent allowance disbursement process tremendously transparent as the carrier shares a detailed report on the project.

"We have seen their distribution process is completely transparent and error-free,” he added.

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