Al Mahmud, originally from Raiganj upazila of Sirajganj, went to Bahrain as a migrant worker 10 years ago.
During the first year and a half of his stay in this Middle Eastern country, Mahmud sent money to his family in Bangladesh through his colleagues who returned home. He later started to send money through a foreign exchange house.
But with the help of his friends and family, Mahmud opened an account in a bank in Bangladesh in his wife’s name.
And since the bank has operations in the city he currently lives in, it allowed him to send money home without any problem.
Likewise, Abdur Rouf, who traveled to the United States as part of the country’s diversity visa program, sent money to his parents through informal channels.
Now, however, he uses a regular bank account and his respective mobile app to easily transfer funds to Bangladesh.
Mahmud and Rouf represent millions of Bangladeshi migrant workers who spend most of their lives working in foreign countries to ensure a secure future.
Currently, most banks in Bangladesh have designated offices to help channel remittances from non-resident Bangladeshis and migrant workers in a quick and easy manner.
Lenders have established a secure network for banking transactions by deploying staff and partnering with foreign exchange bureaus around the world.
For example, Brac Bank, a private commercial bank, has a global network from Asia to Europe, the United States, Africa and Australia to help migrant workers transfer funds.
“Our bank has agreements with 60 different exchange bureaus, allowing us to offer banking services across the world,” said Shahrear Zamil, head of NRB remittances and banking services at Brac Bank.
In addition, we have four financial advisers. Two of them are active in Dubai and South Korea, where around a lakh of skilled and trained Bangladeshi workers are employed, ”said Shahrear Zamil, head of remittances and NRB at Brac Bank.
Currently, around one crore of migrant workers are employed in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, United States, United Kingdom, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and some European countries.
Besides money transfers, lenders operating in Bangladesh also provide migrant workers in the country with a number of investment and savings opportunities that can be used from abroad.
Brac Bank has its Probashi savings account (interest bearing) and Probashi checking account (non-interest bearing) facilities. It also has a Probashi Subidha account for the beneficiaries of the account, such as the wife, parents or children of the migrant worker.
Likewise, Islami Bank Bangladesh Ltd (IBBL), which manages a third of the country’s remittances, offers several deposit and investment products for expatriates.
In addition to the regular deposit systems, it has its Mudaraba NRB savings bond account and a Mudaraba foreign currency deposit account.
“Non-resident Bangladeshis (NRBs) who have served abroad and their family members will be eligible to purchase the Mudaraba NRB Savings Bond,” said Mohammed Monirul Moula, Managing Director of IBBL.
Expats can even buy the deposit on behalf of their minor children, he added.
With the aim of encouraging NRBs to invest their hard-earned money in productive sectors, IBBL introduced the NRB Entrepreneurs Investment Scheme.
“In addition to these specialized deposits and investment plans, NBRs can benefit from all other types of savings and investment plans with our bank,” said Moula.
Bangladesh Bank offers three types of bonds in which NRBs and migrant workers can invest and enjoy different interest rates.
The bonds are Employee Development Bonds (WEDB), which offer an interest rate of 12 percent on a semi-annual basis with a term of five years.
The Dollar Investment Bond (DIB) offers an interest rate of 6.5 percent, also on a semi-annual basis, and matures in three years.
The Dollar Premium Bond (DPB) carries an interest rate of 7.5 percent, and the term is three years.
Of these bonds, most migrant workers prefer WEDBs for their higher interest rate, according to a senior central bank official.
However, these bonds can only be purchased with taka and the Bangladesh Bank has capped the investment ceiling at Tk 1 crore while the minimum investment is set at Tk 25,000.
One can purchase WEDB overseas through a designated bank branch, while forms are also available on the Bangladesh Bank website.