Banks and mobile financial service providers are offering a bundle of discounts for shoppers in the run-up to Pahela Baishakh, which has become one of the biggest spending occasions for Bangladeshis.
From the first day of April, most of the banks are offering discounts ranging from 10 percent to 50 percent for shopping with their credit and debit cards.
Some more lenders will announce their offers this week to boost their card transactions centring on the Bengali New Year on April 14.
It is common that banks offer various facilities against their digital payment instruments ahead of festivals, said Syed Maruf Ali, head of the card division of One Bank.
“This type of offer helps banks to promote digital banking,” he said, adding that One Bank is working to tie up with a number of merchants for offers this week.
Cardholders of Standard Chartered, the largest foreign bank in Bangladesh, will enjoy 10 to 50 percent discounts on purchases at a host of clothing, jewellery, perfume and shoe stores and beauty salons.
The offerings are available throughout the month, according to the bank.
Southeast Bank is offering up to 34 percent price cut for credit cardholders at 34 popular fashion stores and buy 1 get 1 free buffet offer at 11 hotels and restaurants. The offer is valid until April 14.
The offers aim to add more value to the service to cardholders, said Abdus Sabur Khan, head of the card division of Southeast Bank.
The discounts encourage people to make electronic transactions and increase the popularity of the bank's cards, he said. City Bank has rolled out a 15-day Baishakhi campaign from April 1 offering up to 36 percent savings for Amex cardholders at 50 retail points around the country and up to 25 percent discounts at 40 eating joints.
The bank's clients will enjoy 10 percent off at eight e-commerce stores and “buy one get one buffet” offers at 16 top restaurants.
Cardholders of Mutual Trust Bank will also enjoy 35 percent discounts.
The offers, which are available until April 15, aim to create awareness about the use of cards while shopping, said Mohammad Anwar Hossain, senior vice-president and head of the card division of Mutual Trust Bank.
“Still people like to use cash for shopping,” he said, while hoping that the discounts and promotional offers will help change the way people buy products and services.
Prime Bank is preparing to announce up to 50 percent discount at 100 retail points on the occasion of the festival, said Amir Hossain Majumder, head of the card division of the bank.
According to Majumder, the average card transaction rises up to 30 percent on the back of the offers as the card usage also increases during festivals.
The total number of card users stood at 1.28 crore in January, up 14 percent year-on-year.
Of the sum, 9.43 lakhs are credit card users and debit card users at 1.18 crore, according to central bank data.
Monthly card transaction in the banking sector ranges between Tk 11,000 crore to Tk 12,000 crore.
bKash, the largest mobile financial services provider in the country, is offering up to 20 percent cashback for its customers on the occasion of Baishakh.
The cashback offer, which began on April 1 and will run until April 14, is available at more than 600 retail points of 67 apparel, footwear, grocery, accessories, and e-commerce brands.
Major participating brands in the offer are Aarong, Yellow, Le Reve, Sailor, Cats Eye, Monsoon Rain, Celebrations, Anjan's, Amber Lifestyle, Grameen Check, Kay Kraft, Artfort, Style Sell and Rang Bangladesh.
Global payments companies say electronic transaction can grow exponentially in Bangladesh riding on the country's fast march towards digitisation, as only 1 percent transaction takes place electronically at the moment.
Jebun Nesa Alo is Staff Reporter at Star Business, The Daily Star