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8 September, 2019 01:39:15 AM
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Int’l payment exchange for local currency: How API can boost mobile app development

FAISAL MAHMUD, Dhaka
Int’l payment exchange for local currency: 
How API can boost mobile app development

Stakeholders concerned with the IT sector, however, say that if the provision of buying mobile apps through the BDT, instead of the USD, is started, it would boost the mobile apps market by enabling the 3.8 million debit card holders of Bangladesh to purchase apps from the appstore.

Citing reasons, the stakeholders say that owing to regulatory barriers of Bangladesh Bank (BB) regarding international payment getaways, it is not possible to spend the USD in any online marketplace. So, an API of the local currency will facilitate the whole process, they add.

They also say since Bangladesh Bank—the central bank and the regulatory body—has already established its National Payment Switch of Bangladesh (NPSB), there will be no problem in validating local payments through the API exchange.

What is an API exchange?

The API exchange serves to bridge the gap between the application providers’ needs and the operator's capabilities through cross-operator cooperation. The currency converter API started in 2014 and has been up ever since. It offers free web services for developers to convert one currency to another.

A consistent, simple and cross-operator offer of network APIs to developers will strengthen the overall portfolio of mobile operators and preserve their foothold as relevant players in the internet economy. It will also allow them to harvest the opportunities provided by recent developments in the app economy.

Kaimun Amin, chief executive officer (CEO) and managing director of VU Mobile, said that any user, entrepreneur or developer should pay in the USD if s/he wants to buy any paid app now.  Even for conducting digital marketing for an app or facebook page, the user needs to pay in the USD. “Unfortunately, very few people here can buy anything with the dollar through credit cards because of restrictions imposed by the central bank,” he added.

For that reason, Bangladesh needs to develop its own API Exchange for the local currency, said Kaimun. “It’s not just about buying apps or spending money for digital marketing. If an API exchange of the local currency is developed, it would create a digital economy inside the country," he added.

Kaimun also said digital services are not only part of the economy, they are an economy by on their own.  The United Kingdom (UK) has the largest contribution of digital services in its economy which is around 12.4 per cent, he added.

Among the G-20 countries, India is in the lowest position in terms of digital services contribution in the economy. Around 1.5 per cent of the Indian economy is related with digital services.

Bangladesh’s growing mobile gaming industry

Bangladesh is ranked as the third-largest mobile gaming market in South Asia and 61st globally in a ranking of 100 countries thanks to robust growth of internet users and smartphone penetration. The country's mobile gaming market is worth about USD 62.22 million or nearly Tk. 500 crore a year, according to Newzoo, a leading provider of market intelligence of global games, e-sports and mobile markets.

In South Asia, Bangladesh lags behind India and Pakistan but is ahead of Sri Lanka. Nepal, Bhutan and Afghanistan could not grab a place in the top 100. The report was based on data available up to December last year.

Newzoo officials said that they collected information from various sources in respective countries as well as the global market. India was ranked 19th with a market size of USD 521.11 million, while Pakistan was placed on the 53rd position with its gaming market valued at USD 109.05 million. Sri Lanka's market is valued at USD 34.52 million.

“Our revenue estimates are calculated in a model using a variety of inputs like quarterly results from public and private companies, data from different application stores, our consumer research outcomes from 27 countries, population data, internet penetration rates and economic data,” said Cleo Sardelis, marketing and communications manager of Newzoo.

Multiplication of app developers

BASIS president Almas Kabir said an increasing number of developers are getting connected with the app development eco-system.“This number increases a lot if we have an API exchange for the BDT. This will prompt a good number of developers across the country to develop more apps.”

“Just think that there is a provision for buying any app with the BDT. What will happen then? Developers will create a whole structured value added app market. You can download Candy Crush for free, but there are provisions of buying several incentives inside the game and millions of people are paying for buying those,” he also said.

“Now if a local developer designs a game and thinks of keeping the provision for selling several incentives, s/he has to think that there is no point of doing so because very few people will buy those with the USD. But if there are provision for buying those in the BDT, the developer will feel motivated to create such incentives inside the game,” he added.

Stopping of money

draining

Omar Farooq Khandakar, chief information technology officer of Sonali Bank, told The Independent that upon the establishment of the provision of buying mobile apps through the BDT, instead of the USD, money draining through foreign networks could be thwarted as well.

Explaining, he said that Bangladesh Bank does not keep category-wise data of how much money payment networks like Visa and Mastercard are taking, but a ballpark estimation by the regulator—based on the quarterly data of all transactions made with cards — revealed that around Tk. 13 crore is being taken away annually by those global payment network giants.

Omar also said the payment services charge for online transactions via mobile appstore or in-app purchase platforms is 0.7 per cent of the price for the for credit cards using payment networks like Visa and Mastercard. “But once the API exchange for the local currency is established, this charge will come down to nil and save a lot of money draining,” he added.

EA

 

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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