In the past 12 months, the payment system in Bangladesh has been revolutionised. It has gone from a fully manual interchange of paper cheques and reports to a national, fully automated, image-based cheque truncation system and Electronic Funds Transfer system.
The Bangladesh Automated Clearinghouse (BACH) links all 48 of the countryâs banks. Aperta provided the BACH with the Bangladesh Automated Cheque Processing System (BACPS), which been live in Bangladesh since October 2010. BACPS revolutionised the processing of cheque payments in Bangladesh by reducing the payment cycle from around 21 days down to a few hours. In doing this, the process has been further improved by increasing security, traceability, and accountability. A central image archive is also provided so that member banks can enquire on their own items that have passed through the clearing system, which in turn allows the member banks to provide improved customer service.
Automation of the member banks and the introduction of image-based cheque clearing provided the infrastructure and experience that allowed the banks to make the transition to Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT). Aperta again provided the Bangladesh Electronic Funds Transfer Network (BEFTN) solution that supports the bulk electronic payments.
BEFTN is functionally NACHA-compliant in the range of payment-types provided. However, for consistency with BACPS and to assist in the introduction of BEFTN, the payment messages are XML-based.
Today sees the end of the first week of live processing of BEFTN. The facilities to automate a wide range of payments are now in place and the member banks are actively encouraging their clients to utilise them. Initial major benefits are likely to result in corporate clients automating bulk payments, such as salaries, and business-to-business payments. However, individual regular payments, such as those for utilities, mobile phone, and so on, will quickly follow.
Aperta would like to particularly thank Bangladesh Bank (BB), its staff and advisors, BB Governor Dr Atiur Rahman and all the commercial banks for their vision and commitment to achieving the extraordinary success of these projects in a remarkably short time. This has resulted in Bangladesh going from a fully manual cheque clearing and settlement system to having one of the most advanced payment systems in the world today.