Bangladesh central bank pilots interoperable national QR code payments system

INTEROPERABLE: The trial lets customers of multiple banks scan a QR code with their smartphone to pay

The Central Bank of Bangladesh is trialling an interoperable payments system that will enable customers of more than 15 major banks and payment service providers to pay for their purchases by scanning a standardized QR code at a participating merchant’s point of sale with their smartphone.

The system forms part of Bangladesh Bank’s Cashless Bangladesh initiative and is built on the country’s existing Bangla QR mobile payments service that to date has only enabled customers of specific banks to make QR code payments at merchants that have an account with the same financial institution.

Bangladesh Bank’s pilot upgrade has now extended the interoperability of that service so merchants can accept payments from customers with accounts at any of the participating banks and payment service providers.

“From now on, anyone can make payments using the QR codes, regardless of their account-keeping banks or organisations,” central bank executive director Mezbaul Haque said when launching the pilot, according to a report by The Business Service.

“Earlier, the service was limited. Clients of a particular bank could make payments using the QR codes of the bank only.

“This new initiative brings a solution to that. Now you can make payments from any bank to merchant accounts direct.”

At launch, 10 banks — Dutch-Bangla Bank, Mutual Trust Bank, AB Bank, Eastern Bank, Islami Bank Bangladesh, United Commercial Bank, City Bank, Bank Asia, Pubali Bank and One Bank — as well as Mastercard, Visa, American Express and mobile payments providers bKash, Rocket and Islami Bank’s mCash are supporting the service, Bangladesh Bank says.

The upgraded interoperable version of Bangla QR is being tested with some 1,200 small businesses in the capital Dhaka prior to a wider rollout.

Bangla QR was originally launched with support from Mutual Trust Bank in January 2020.

Bangladesh central bank pilots interoperable national QR code payments system was written by Tom Phillips and published by NFCW.

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