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Agent banking is the main focus of NRB Bank

NRB Bank is putting an emphasis on agent bankingto reach the marginalized people of the country, said the bank’s Deputy Managing Director (DMD) Md Khurshed Alam during an interview with Dhaka Tribune’s Mehedi Hasan.Alam also discussed the bank’s current overview, impending challenges and other issues.

Khurshed Alam joined NRB Bank Ltd as DMD on December 27, 2018. He started his banking career on January 1, 1996, as a 2nd batch management trainee at Eastern Bank Ltd. He earned his Masters degree from the Department of Public Administration at Dhaka University.

What is the current status of NRB Bank?

NRB Bank is an innovative fourth generation bank which commenced its operations on August 4, 2013, with a vision to be the leading financial institution for non-resident Bangladeshis (NRBs) seeking to invest in Bangladesh and for Bangladeshi individuals and corporation sseeking access to international markets.The starting period of this bank was challenging, with very little growth in the first three years.However, growth increased over the next three years and now we have reduced the loan-deposit ratio to 84%.

The amount we have in deposits is increasing gradually. The bank had Tk3,400crore in deposits at the beginning of this year, and that figure now stands at Tk4,000crore. On the other hand, the total for loans and advances stands at Tk3,600crore.

When will NRB Bank be listed on the stock market?

We want to get listed with the stock market as soon as possible. Looking after our balance sheet of this year, we will apply for IPO (initial public offering) in the next year.

What kind of initiatives have you taken to create new entrepreneurs in the country?

Agent banking and SME banking are our main focus areas. We provide up to Tk20 lakh to SME entrepreneurs without security. We have launched agent banking to provide banking services to the marginalized people of the country. So far, 167 agent outlets have already been opened. We want to reachpeople’s doorsteps through agent banking.

Moreover, our debit card has unique features. We do not impose any charge on our debit card users when they use other banks’ ATMs to withdraw cash.

What are the challenges in getting to single digit lending rates?

There is unhealthy competition in our banking sector. Banks can lend at an interest rate of 9% if they can collect deposits at 6% interest. But if the bank has to collect deposits at an interest rate of 9 to 11%, then it is not possible for the bank to lend at single digit interest rates.