The Dhaka Community of Practice (COP) started in April 2018, and was DFI’s first Asian COP. Through discussions with Bangladesh Bank, ten staff was awarded a scholarship for the Certificate in Digital Money (CIDM) course and one of the key driving forces behind this, Mohammad Rashed, became the group’s COP facilitator. The COP meetings were well attended, with the COP achieving an overall attendance rate of 82%. It was clear at the end of this CIDM course that there was commitment from Bangladesh Bank staff to learn and commitment from Mr. Rashed to facilitate this learning.
Dhaka has since gone on to be one of the most well attended COPs with a meaningful alumni group having been formed. The alumni are working together raising awareness of digital finance via their Facebook group which currently has 729 as well as with the Facebook page. They also contributed their knowledge as member of different policy making committees of the government and organizing policy advocacy and capacity building events by themselves.
The DFI alumni are also hosting free webinars in Bangla for anyone with an interest in digital finance in Bangladesh to join. Three webinars were held in 2019, discussing DFS landscape and disruptions in India, China and European Union. They have planned to arrange webinar on monthly basis beginning in January 2020.
Mr. Rashed could see how much he personally and his colleagues had benefitted from the DFI courses and COP, which inspired him to actively began campaigning to find sources of funding which would allow more people to access DFI’s training. The alumni, led by Mr. Rashed, and DFI had discussions with the Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation which resulted in the funding for Bangladesh Bank staff to access DFI’s courses for 3 years and also funding for the COP. Two other public sector organisations, Ministry of Finance and Microcredit Regulatory Authority were also funded for access for one year.
Already over three hundred staff for Bangladesh Bank had completed different online courses in 2019 and 166 staff have enrolled for foundation courses beginning in January 2020. It is expected that many from the ministries will also sign up after the official announcement is made within their organisation. Many staff will receive training which will enhance the knowledge and capacity within Bangladesh. As a result, it will contribute for enabling regulation and policies for DFS, an increase in the services offered with greater reach, resulting in the financial inclusion of more population.
The alumni have formed a professional association, Digital Finance Forum Bangladesh with participation of all segments of stakeholders which is a source of expertise and credibility for the country. The first Convening Committee of the Forum was formed in December, 2019. The association selected four focus themes for 2020: Regulatory Sandbox, Digital Credit, Digital Identity and Interoperability. They will organize a conference on the above themes this year and present papers with policy recommendations. As more people complete the courses, this group of professionals will grow and start to exert influence, increase capacity and be a source of expertise for the country.