The Bangladesh Bank restored the interbank check clearing system yesterday, a major relief for users, but a backlog of checks and the non-operational electronic funds transfer (EFT) platform are still causing suffering for customers.
Interbank electronic check transactions and money transfer activities through the central bank’s Bangladesh Automated Clearing House (BACH) were suspended on April 13 due to the disconnection of a fiber-optic cable between two data centers in the BB.
The central bank reestablished the connection between the centers – one in Motijheel and the other in Mirpur – on the evening of April 13, but the full functioning of BACH has not yet been restored.
BACH, the first electronic clearinghouse in Bangladesh, has two components: an Automated Check Processing System (ACPS) and EFT.
The CSGA has been restored. EFT was restarted for a while yesterday, but it collapsed again, a central banker said.
“EFT can be operational from today. While we have made every effort to take over the system, there is a bit of uncertainty to resolve the issue by today.”
The banks submitted interbank checks for 1.46 lakh involving approximately Tk 150,000 crore to the BB.
Syed Mahbubur Rahman, managing director of Mutual Trust Bank, said his bank submitted all pending interbank checks to the central bank.
He expressed hope that EFT will return to normal by today, which will help customers run their banking business smoothly.
Emranul Huq, managing director of Dhaka Bank, said the current problem would be completely resolved once BACH fully recovered.
Managing directors at two banks, however, said they were unable to submit all checks yesterday due to a huge backlog of documents, meaning customers would have to wait to receive money.
An accountant at a private company said his company has faced a cash shortage in recent days because it did not deposit money into its account using checks from its clients.
“Our bank informed us that the system had resumed, but we were unable to manage our fund due to a large backlog of checks,” he said.
On Thursday, the central bank settled some of the EFT transactions through its Real-Time Gross Settlement (RTGS). He didn’t use it yesterday, a banker said.
The central bank assured banks to settle EFT transactions through RTGS today if BACH does not fully restore.
Customers of one bank are allowed to send Tk 1 lakh and above to customers of other banks via RTGS.
On the other hand, 95 percent of the values, which are set via EFT, are less than Tk 1 lakh.
Interbank transactions via the two digital modes are the most important in number and volume.
For example, customers submit about one lakh of interbank checks, amounting to about Tk 12,000 crore, per day.
CSGA uses check imaging and truncation technology for the electronic presentation and payment of paper instruments.
Under the EFT system, around 1.5 lakh of transactions are settled by customers each day, amounting to Tk 1,000 crore.
Established in February 2011, the Bangladesh Electronic Fund Transfer Network (BEFTN) was the country’s first paperless interbank electronic funds transfer system.
It facilitates both credit and debit transactions as a leader in check clearing systems.
The network can handle transfers such as payroll, foreign and domestic remittances, social security payments, corporate dividends, bill payments, corporate payments, government tax payments, and person-to-person payments.