Bengal Commercial Bank begins journey today


Bengal Commercial Bank (BGCB) Limited is set to start its journey today (Wednesday) with a vision 'Inspiring Growth' to help fulfill the economic needs of the nation, the bank's top executive has said.

"Our mission is to build a digital bank with a human touch to provide our customers instant and enduring services that best fits their needs," Tarik Morshed, managing director (MD) and chief executive officer (CEO) of BGCB told the Financial Express (FE) in an exclusive interview on Monday, ahead of the new bank's formal inauguration.

The executive also said: "Besides corporate banking, we'll give priority financing in cottage, micro, small and medium enterprises (CMSMEs) along with retail banking aiming to facilitate the ongoing financial inclusion initiatives across the country with a view to achieving sustainable economic development of Bangladesh."

Under the plan, Bengal Commercial Bank has already designed a unique and structured micro credit product-Bengal Shonirbhor -aiming to bring more unbanked people under the banking umbrella.

The new generation private commercial bank (PCB) is also projected to provide around Tk 25 billion as micro credit investment to nearly 25000 clients across the country in the next three years.

The BGCB wants to include the people, who still remain outside of the banking system through boosting such credit facilities, according to the CEO.

"We're committed to focus on CMSMEs financing particularly micro credit as alternative channels of investment," the senior banker said while replying to a query about lower demand for private sector credit in the recent months.

The private sector credit growth came down to 8.32 per cent in January 2021 on a year-on-year basis from 8.37 per cent a month before, according to the Bangladesh Bank (BB)'s latest statistics.

This growth was 6.48 percentage points lower than the BB's target of 14.80 per cent for the second half (H2) of the current fiscal year.

"Our motto is to give easy access to credit for low and middle income group and start-up business entrepreneurs," Mr. Morshed disclosed while sharing his future plans to run the country's 60th scheduled bank smoothly.

The board of directors of the BGCB is committed to protect the depositors' interest at any circumstances, the CEO added.

"Our first priority will be safeguarding the depositors' interest. We shall adhere to the fact that under any circumstances depositors' right will be protected," he noted.

He also said the BGCB aims to uphold the interest of the account holders and depositors by ensuring that the deposits are channeled in meaningful investment projects which are designed with viable returns.

The board is also determined to comply with the existing core risk-management guidelines of the BB for improving the bank's efficiency, according to the CEO.

The central bank earlier had identified six core risk areas in the country's banking sector: credit, asset and liability, foreign exchange, information technology, internal control and compliance, and money laundering.

The CEO sees an ample opportunity where the new bank can perform and succeed even in this current situation.

"I am not disappointed about the number of banks in Bangladesh because the old banks have success as well as problems like provisioning requirements and non-performing loans (NPLs)," the senior banker said while replying to another query.

Currently, 59 scheduled banks along with 35 non-banking financial institutions (NBFIs) are running their businesses across the country.

"We shall be careful about the NPLs in our bank from the very beginning," Mr. Morshed said, adding that the BGCB has decided to keep the classified loans at 'zero' level in the next three years.

The new PCB has also decided to maintain a centralized banking system from the very beginning through using the latest financial technology (FinTech) to provide better services to its customers.

FinTech is a new technology and innovation that aims to compete with traditional financial methods in the delivery of financial services using smartphones or the internet.

"Interested people will be able to open their accounts using Bengal Bank App after a week of formal inauguration," the CEO said while replying to a query about the use of FinTech.

The App refers to the mobile financial service of Bengal Commercial Bank that enables bank customers to transact and access their accounts through mobile devices.

"Actually, we want to extend services to the doorstep of our valued customers across the country using the latest FinTech in the near future," the senior banker noted.

Prior to joining the BGCB, Mr. Morshed served as MD and CEO of BD Finance Limited, a NBFI, from April 2018 to March 2020.

Besides, he worked for Social Islami Bank Limited (SIBL) as additional managing director (AMD) until March 2018. He joined the Shariah-based bank in 1995 after serving more than eight years in the BRAC.

Mr. Morshed started his career with the world's largest non-governmental organization (NGO) in 1987 after completing post-graduation from the University of Rajshahi.

Earlier on February 23 last calendar year, the board of directors of BB accorded its final approval for issuance of license favouring the BGCB, asking the lender to boost paid-up capital up toTk 5.0 billion within two years.