Mohammad Rashed, CDFP, is one of the digital finance pioneers in Bangladesh. As the first Bangladeshi and globally 5th CDFP, he has brought about many digital issues relating to finance befitting the trends of the digital world. Digital finance literacy has got momentum with his leadership. He has also created avenues for Bangladesh to represent and lead in many platforms relating to digital finance, money laundering, and financial inclusion.
This article sheds light on his versatile career journey with a special focus on digital finance education. We will explore the personal life of Mohammad Rashed, his journey to becoming a CDFP, and how he uses his skills and experiences to help others. We will delve into his early years, education, and career, as well as his personal philosophy and approach to digital finance, in particular. So, keep reading.
Table of Contents
Mr. Rashed started his career in a development organization as a project coordinator earlier as the first job. He joined Bangladesh Bank as an Assistant Director in 2006 and worked in Banking Inspection Department. In 2012, he was posted to Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU). Now, he is in the Foreign Exchange Operation Department. The Central Bank is always considered to be an honor and a great opportunity as a career. So many issues are easy to explore about the economy, payment systems, and export imports from any central bank. He has enjoyed the jobs here and contributed to many untapped areas. Now, he is serving the central bank in an Additional Director capacity.
Experience with Capacity
- Additional Director, Bangladesh Bank, Jul 2022 – Present
- Steering Committee MemberAlliance of Digital Finance Associations Aug 2021 – Present
- Founder & Convener Digital Finance Forum Bangladesh Mar 2017 – Present
- Joint Director, Bangladesh Bank, January 2017 – June 2022
- Deputy Director, Bangladesh Bank, Jun 2012 – Dec 2016
- Assistant Director, Bangladesh Bank, May 2006 – 2011
- Project Coordinator, Population Services & Training Center (PSTC) Dec 2005 – Nov 2006
During his productive and knowledge-seeking career, he has represented and participated in training in various capacities at home and abroad. For knowledge-sharing representation and learning, he has been to Malaysia, Qatar, Switzerland, USA, Tanzania, Kenya, China, India, Egypt, South Africa
class=”wp-block-heading”>Digital finance journey
While working at BFIU, he had to supervise digital financial services (DFS). As a regulator and in-depth knowledge seeker, he felt the urge to know more about DFS. The new sector needed guidance from the central bank and hence should understand the business model of the service providers, operational processes, and the risks involved. International standards, prudential regulations, and practices in other countries were also crucial. So, he started initiatives to strengthen the supervision, and capacity building of the stakeholders to promote digital finance in Bangladesh. Publication of a study paper, initiating a donor-funded project to support the digital finance ecosystem, introducing digital finance online course scholarship for central bankers and public sector officials; and establishing a professional association named Digital Finance Forum Bangladesh are a few of his visionary and timely initiatives.
AML/CFT Regulations for Mobile Money: Policy Options for Bangladesh
Professionals in digital finance land from different backgrounds and very often face difficulty in understanding the risks associated with DFS as it was very new few years back. Mr Rashed discovered some communication gap among different stakeholders including service providers and regulators regarding risk management procedures. He tried to reduce the gap with integration from all relevant stakeholders.
A focus group came to formation in 2015 with experienced officials from relevant departments of Bangladesh Bank, CID, Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, bKash Ltd., Dutch Bangla Bank Ltd. and Islami Bank Bangladesh Ltd. to analyze risks and find mitigations for mobile money. He was the Coordinator of the focus group and lead the entire process. It actually took a lot of time to complete the assignment as different stakeholders deal with different aspects of the problem with complexity in reaching to a consensus. There were debates in the focus group to minimize the knowledge gap and explore what would be the best fit. Trainings were not even at that time as the concept was rare globally at that time with few practical case studies.
BB Governor Mr. Fazle Kabir hailed the paper to be beneficial to policymakers, service providers, risk managers, and researchers at home and abroad. In the preface, the then, Head of BFIU Mr. Abu Hena Mohd. Razee Hassan claimed the study paper had laid down a clear direction to service providers regarding regulatory expectations on AML/CFT risk management. Organizations including FenDev Gateway, Alliance for Financial Inclusion, DFS Observatory of Columbia University and Digital Frontiers Institute published review/summary of the Study Paper on their websites. Based on the recommendations of the Study Paper, MFS providers were instructed to prevent of money laundering, terrorist financing and proliferation financing in 2017 and e-KYC guidelines came to reality in 2020 following the BFIU Circulars.
The study also helped take some strict measures including the freezing of suspicious mobile banking agents’ accounts to prevent digital hundi in September 2017. Illegal hundi decreased after our actions and remittance increased by about 35% in October 2017 compared to the previous month and the negative trend of the previous two years was reversed. Through the use of the research observations as big data analytics tool, it was easy to identify suspected transactions. The awareness level increased and the abuse also decreased significantly. While working on it, the whole team learned a lot and after the publication, the whole world is getting benefits from versatile aspects. This is a continuous process and this has also become an example for people working in DFS and its supervision.
Certified Digital Finance Practitioner (CDFP)
While searching for training opportunities in digital finance in 2016, he landed on a 12-week long online course Certificate in Digital Money (CIDM) jointly offered by The Fletcher School, Tufts University, Boston, and Digital Frontiers Institute (DFI), South Africa. As the enrollment fee was quite high, he applied for a scholarship and secured it. After the course, he continued participating in some other courses under partial scholarship and achieved the Certified Digital Finance Practitioner (CDFP) recognition in 2020. He is the first Certified Digital Finance Practitioner (CDFP) in Asia and the fifth globally. It’s a 130-credit program that requires 2 foundation courses, a few short courses, and practical activities. More than 119 participants have already achieved the certification in Bangladesh and almost all of them are from Bangladesh Bank.
In 2018, DFI offered scholarships for 10 officials of Bangladesh Bank to participate in the CIDM course. The result of Bangladesh Bank officials was great and 4 of them scored among the global top 10. It was very inspiring and he started to look for more scholarship opportunities for the capacity building of central bankers and public sector officials. He discussed with some donor agencies and finally, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation agreed to sponsor the scholarship in September 2019. Officials of BSEC, BTRC, MRA, a2i Programme, bankers, and some other agencies are participating in those online-based courses. There are 21 courses available in the DFI platform and we are continuing to complete those highly interactive courses. The capacity building program will surely have far-reaching impacts on digital transformation in Bangladesh. he will be remembered as the pioneer in the digital finance literacy field for leading this CDFP program and scholarships.
Digital finance ecosystem
As a representative of Bangladesh Bank in the Focus Group on Digital Financial Service (FG-DFS) organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) since August 2015 he attended conferences in Malaysia, Switzerland, the USA, and Tanzania. Since 2012, digital finance, particularly the MFS, got huge adoption in Bangladesh and became one of the largest markets. However, only primary products (Cash in, Cash out and P2P) were available without serving the huge room for other products, and capacity building of the stakeholders was necessary. BMGF and UNCDFP initiated the ‘Shaping Inclusive Finance Transformations (SHIFT) Project’ in 2016. He had developed the primary concept paper and several meetings were held with BFIU to finalize the project proposal. Several policy papers have been developed and many conferences, seminars, training, etc. were organized under the project. The project is currently working with micro-merchants for the digitization of their supply chain to get finance from financial institutions with the support of the European Union. The overall impact of the project on our DFS ecosystem is very long-lasting.
Digital Bangladesh Vision
He thinks the government’s Digital Bangladesh Vision is very impactful and full of potentials. A lot of things are interrelated here. The government is moving to digitization; citizens are increasingly getting services online. During the lockdown, garment workers’ salary was disbursed through MFS, and e-commerce and online education got huge popular. So, we must have to adopt digital finance products and services as soon as possible for convenience and avoid health risks during this COVID-19 pandemic. Financial service providers should collaborate with other players including FinTech companies to offer efficient and innovative services. Governments and regulators have a greater role to ensure an enabling environment during this transition. Digital Bangladesh has been achieved and the government is opting for smart Bangladesh for bringing positive changes in this field. All of our data exists in silos now. So, Mr. Rashed thinks we have to go for a Whole of Government (WoG) approach to establish interoperability
Digital Finance Forum Bangladesh journey
With the leadership of Mr. Rashed, Digital Finance Forum Bangladesh started its journey as a social media group of digital finance and fintech professionals in 2017 and formed the Convening Committee in 2019. Online conferencing platforms like Zoom have made things easier. Local and foreign experts and audiences now take part in online events organized by the platform. The platform organizes many webinars, learning events, and meetings on different topics, such as digital credit, digital identity, MFS interoperability, digital banking, digital finance in different regions, regulatory sandbox, Blockchain, and cryptocurrency, economy during COVID-19, etc.
Such programs serve the practical requirement for CDFP and in-depth understanding of relevant topics for policy issues. It’s an open platform and relevant professionals are invited to share the knowledge they master.
Effective digital payment system
He suggests moving focus on Cash in and Cash out and asking the provider to reduce fees. Rather, he is a supporter of more services. The agents expect reasonable profit. If they don’t get it, there will be fewer agents, and the doorstep services will be unavailable. The cost can be lowered, if we replace cash with digital payment. If more merchants and utility services accept digital payments, customer adoption would be increased. As a matter of fact, MFSs are now coming with lots of services and features in addition to cash-in-out.
Interoperability among bank accounts and mobile money wallets is very crucial to reduce transaction costs. Excise duty may be imposed on cash withdrawals above a certain threshold. Cash management is costly for banks and risky in AML/CFT context. Bank and online transactions can be monitored easily. He suggests adopting the carrot-and-stick policy to encourage digital transactions.
Future of e-commerce in Bangladesh
He points out that E-commerce has taken a big leap during Covid-19. One of the major problems faced by e-commerce is not being able to get a trade license. Another problem that exists is trust. The scams over the last few years have made customers panicked.
E-commerce payment conducted in cash on delivery (COD) mode is really highly risky for sellers. On the other hand, the customer feedback platform needs to be improved for the rating of the sellers to safeguard the customers. Escrow account systems should be introduced to hold money by a third party on behalf of transacting parties. Once a customer confirms that he/she has received the intended goods, then the fund would be released to the seller. Thanks that Escrow account systems have been initiated. Now, the proper implementation will make the e-commerce sector in Bangladesh more vibrant and a win-win for stakeholders.
A career in digital finance or fintech
This is a new sector, so capacity building is very important here. He suggests staying focused to pursue a career in digital finance or fintech. Digital aspirants may opt for courses for basic knowledge or engage with Forums like Digital Finance Forum Bangladesh. Such forums organize lots of events and discuss contemporary issues to keep updated and watchful of market trends.
Areas where he directly or indirectly contributed
- Digital finance literacy programs with Digital Frontiers Institute
- Working on MFS and AML landscapes
- Managing scholarships from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
- Collaboration with A2i and other stakeholders in the digital landscape
- Digital financial inclusion mechanisms
- Representing Bangladesh in forums like The Alliance of Digital Finance Associations
- Digital Nano Loans through The City Bank Limited ( with Bkash)
- Launching Binimoy Platform, an Interoperable Digital Transaction Platform (IDTP)
- Cash Incentive disbursement digitization with Online Export Monitoring System
- Real-time forex settlement initiative
- Cashless Society in Bangladesh and Bangla QR initiatives
- Digital Bank related policies (under process)
Personal Life of Mohammad Rashed
We will explore the personal life of Mohammad Rashed, his early years, education, achievements, leisure, and so on.
Born in 1978, Mr. Rashed’s schooling started in Feni Government Pilot School. Then he moved to Dhaka College. He completed Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Sociology at the University of Dhaka. Later, he pursued a second Master’s in Banking and Finance from the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Thailand to fulfill his intention to study economics or engineering from early childhood. He is the first Certified Digital Finance Practitioner (CDFP) in Asia and the fifth in the world.
- The Fletcher School at Tufts University Certified Digital Finance Practitioner (CDFP) 2016 – 2019
- Asian Institute of Technology Professional Masters Banking & Finance 2011 – 2012
- University of Dhaka Master of Social Science-Sociology 2004 – 2005
- The University of Dhaka Bachelor’s degree Sociology 1998 – 2003
- School at Dhaka College 1995-1996
- Founder & Convenor, Digital Finance Forum Bangladesh, March 2017 – Present
- Alumni Coordinator- Bangladesh, Digital Frontiers Institute, January 2018 – Present
- Founder and Admin of a Facebook group of 2500+ central bank officers
Licenses & Certifications
- Product Management, Digital Frontiers Institute, Issued November 2020
- Blockchain and Cryptocurrency, Digital Frontiers Institute, Issued April 2020
- Regulation in Digital Finance, Digital Frontiers Institute, Issued January 2020
- Money Transfer, Digital Frontiers Institute, Issued November 2019
- Digital Finance for All, Digital Frontiers Institute, Issued October 2019
- Gender Blind Spots, Digital Frontiers Institute, Issued August 2019
- Mobile Money Operations, Digital Frontiers Institute, Issued June 2019
- Digital Identity, Digital Frontiers Institute, Issued April 2019
- Anti-Money Laundering & Compliance, Digital Frontiers Institute, Issued January 2018
Publications and Speeches
Digital finance is a blend of financial services with digital technologies with unprecedented growth in developing countries. Hardly any stakeholder perceived associated money laundering risks and even central banks were implementing bank regulations for it. The regular regulations were not effective as the cases are very new and different. So, there needed lot of study to understand what to apply and what not to the digital finance arena. At last, the ‘Study Paper- AML/CFT Regulations for Mobile Money: Policy Options for Bangladesh’ saw the light in 2017 as the first such detailed policy paper on MFS by any regulator globally. The paper explained international standards of AML/CFT and how those could be applied for MFS, Bangladesh context and put forward detailed policy recommendations. It received huge appreciation from local and international audiences.
- The speaker in Webinar, “Update on DFS Landscape in Jordan and Bangladesh”Digital Frontiers Institute April 2019
- KYC Innovations, Financial Inclusion and Integrity In Selected AFI Member Countries Alliance for Financial Inclusion March 2019
- An article on “Digital Payment: A Distinct Service Born from Banking” Bangladesh Bank February 2019
- Study Paper, “AML/CFT Regulations for Mobile Money: Policy Options for Bangladesh” Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit, Bangladesh Bank April 10, 2018, The printed 2nd edition of the paper has been released in May 2018.
- Article, “Factor 3C for Prevention of Digital Hundi” Bangladesh Bank August 2017
- Commonly Identified Consumer Protection themes for Digital Financial ServicesInternational Telecommunication Union May 2016
- Regulation in the Digital Financial Services EcosystemInternational Telecommunication Union May 2016
- Study Paper, “NGO/NPO Sector Assessment of Bangladesh” Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit, Bangladesh Bank October 2015
Honors & Awards
Second Runner-Up in ‘Financial Inclusion Data Hackathon, 2019’
Spending leisure time
As a man of ideas, he is always mentally occupied with versatile ideas and intends to do many impactful activities. Watching movies sometimes inspire and motivates him a lot, so, he takes the opportunity whenever gets any scope. Episodes around financial arenas are of great interest to him. He is a book lover but hardly manages sufficient time for long time reading. He is often seen in the natural environments enjoying the beauties in nature and villages. He believes that working with policy requires insights into the history and anthropology of Bangladesh and other societies. As a regulator, observing the markets and keeping close eyes on use cases around the world are so much important to accelerate growth with our foresight and market analysis. So, he keeps his mind open to accommodate ideas and situations.